Rotavirus gastroenteritis in the Northern Territory, 1995–2004

Rosalie Schultz
Med J Aust 2006; 185 (7): 354-356.


Objective: To present data on rotavirus notifications in the Northern Territory to provide knowledge about the local epidemiology of rotavirus gastroenteritis that can be used to inform the use and funding of rotavirus vaccines.

Design: Retrospective analysis of data from the Northern Territory Notifiable Diseases Database.

Participants and setting: Patients with cases of rotavirus infection notified to the NT Centre for Disease Control from 1 January 1995 to 31 December 2004.

Main outcome measures: Patterns of rotavirus notifications over time; infection rates in Indigenous versus non-Indigenous children aged 0–5 years; age groups infected with rotavirus.

Results: Numbers of rotavirus notifications over the period 1995–2004 show annual, monthly and regional variability. The rotavirus notification rate for Indigenous children aged 0–5 years was 2.75 per 100 per year, compared with 0.98 for non-Indigenous children, with a relative risk for Indigenous children of 2.17 (95% CI, 1.97–2.39) over the 10 years. Indigenous children infected with rotavirus were younger than non-Indigenous children, with median ages of 11 months and 16 months, respectively. Rotavirus gastroenteritis occurred in outbreaks, transmitted over months throughout the NT.

Conclusion: Large numbers of cases of rotavirus gastroenteritis affecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the NT are notified every year. The rate in Indigenous children may be decreasing relative to non-Indigenous children. An effective rotavirus vaccine could prevent significant morbidity.

  • Rosalie Schultz

  • Department of Health and Community Services, Centre for Disease Control, Alice Springs, NT.



I thank Dr Peter Markey, Head of Surveillance, Centre for Disease Control, Darwin, who assisted with obtaining data on ages of children with notified cases, and Dr Ahmed Latif, who helped with the statistical analysis.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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