The burden of rotavirus-related illness among young children on the Australian health care system Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To provide estimates of the annual number and cost of hospital admissions, emergency department (ED) visits and general practitioner (GP) visits for rotavirus (RV) related acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in young children in Australia. METHODS:Numbers of hospitalisations for AGE were determined from national hospital morbidity data from July 1998 to June 2003. The fraction of these hospitalisations that may be attributed to RV was estimated by direct linkage of hospital admissions and pathology data from hospitals in two regions of Australia and by a second indirect method using the seasonal variation of RV infection. Numbers of ED visits were estimated using statewide data from Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), and numbers of GP visits were estimated from representative sample data for GP visits. Costs of RV hospital admissions and ED visits were estimated from national hospital cost data. RESULTS:RV continues to account for around 10,000 hospitalisations annually for children aged less than five in Australia at an average cost of 1890 dollars each. There are an additional 22,000 ED visits a year where the child is not subsequently hospitalised, each at a cost of 320 dollars, and approximately 115,000 visits to GPs by children in this age group for RV-AGE at a cost of 36.60 dollars each. CONCLUSIONS:The annual cost of hospital admissions, ED visits and GP visits associated with RV infection in young children in Australia is approximately 30 million dollars. IMPLICATIONS:Vaccination against RV disease in Australia may provide substantial savings to the health care system, depending on the cost and effectiveness of an immunisation program.

publication date

  • October 2006