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Euro Surveill. 2009 May 21;14(20). pii: 19217.

Clinical laboratory practices for the detection of rotavirus in England and Wales: can surveillance based on routine laboratory testing data be used to evaluate the impact of vaccination?

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  • 1Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.


Two rotavirus vaccines have recently been licensed in Europe. Rotavirus surveillance data in many European countries are based on reports of laboratory-confirmed rotavirus infections. If surveillance data based on routine laboratory testing data are to be used to evaluate the impact of vaccination programmes, it is important to determine how the data are influenced by differences in testing practices, and how these practices are likely to affect the ability of the surveillance data to represent trends in rotavirus disease in the community. We conducted a survey of laboratory testing policies for rotavirus gastroenteritis in England and Wales in 2008. 60% (94/156) of laboratories responded to the survey. 91% of reporting laboratories offered routine testing for rotavirus all year round and 89% of laboratories offered routine rotavirus testing of all stool specimens from children under the age of five years. In 96% of laboratories, rotavirus detection was presently done either by rapid immunochromatographic tests or by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Currently, rotavirus testing policies among laboratories in England and Wales are relatively homogenous. Therefore, surveillance based on laboratory testing data is likely to be representative of rotavirus disease trends in the community in the most frequently affected age groups (children under the age of five years) and could be used to help determine the impact of a rotavirus vaccine.

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