Rotavirus: The silent threat to children

Few people will have heard of Rotavirus, but it’s one of the deadliest viruses on the planet for babies and young children.

Found in all corners of the world, it’s an incredibly infectious stomach bug, causing diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting, stomach aches and fever. Most children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, will have been infected at least once by the age of five. Those living in developing countries are at higher risk of fatality, with World Health Organisation estimates of 215,000 child deaths each year, and up to 47,000 of these occurring in India, 31,000 in Nigeria and 15,000 in Pakistan.

Traditionally, the illness was treated like any other child diarrhoea illness, remedied by topping up fluids to prevent dehydration. But the introduction of RotaTeq and Rotarix vaccines at the start of the 21st century has dramatically reduced infection rates, with up to 98 per cent effectiveness observed in severe cases.

Today, the infection is easily treated – in the UK, the vaccine was introduced in 2013, resulting in a 69 per cent drop in cases. It contains a weakened strain of the disease, helping babies to build immunity, and children are given two doses at eight and 12 weeks through a liquid given to them to swallow. Now that air cargo has made the vaccine more available, IAG Cargo is working to close the gap between those that can readily access it in the developed world and those that most need it.

Through our partnerships with international pharmaceutical companies, we carry vaccines to parts of the world that are at high risk, supporting efforts to eradicate diseases such as this preventable threat to children.

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