Physician says 'home-bound' kids may still suffer rotavirus

TAIPEI - A physician has warned that "home-bound" babies and young children may still fall victim to a potentially deadly viral infection, recommending protective vaccinations in consultation with medical personnel.

The rotavirus, a genus of the double-stranded RNA virus belonging to the family Reoviridae, which is found globally, is frequently found in homes, according to a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) report dated Sept. 13.

Calling the common belief among parents that "no outdoors activities, no infection" a complacent misconception, the report asserts that no amount of home cleaning can completely terminate the easily mutated virus, which has so far developed seven different strains - G1, G2, G3, G4, G8, G9, and G12 - through mutation.

W. J. Soong, who heads the Pediatrics Department at the Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, is quoted in the report as saying that the rotavirus is frequently found on toys, door knobs, baby seats, and flush toilet handles, buttons, or levers.

Parents also unwittingly bring home this virus, according to Soong, who said infection symptoms include dehydration, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, and noted that serious infection can be fatal.

Babies cared for by their own mothers are more prone to infection than those entrusted to the care of others, according to the GSK report, which also stresses the importance of home sanitation.

A polluted environment may contain as much as eight times more virus than a well-scrubbed home, the report said, citing a US microbiological research report.