This group of reoviruses causes diseases in mammals. In humans it is a major caused of endemic and epidemic gastroenteritis and infantile diarrhoea.
Because of the magnitude of disease associated with rotavirus infections and because public health interventions to provide clean water and improved sanitation are unlikely to decrease the incidence of disease, vaccines are being developed as the first strategy for prevention.
Rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe diarrhoea worldwide. In developing countries, rotavirus infection may cause up to one million deaths each year, accounting for an estimated 20-25% of all deaths due to diarrhoea and 6% of all deaths among children less than five years old. Although rotaviral diarrhoea in children in the USA is generally milder than that in developing countries, the virus is still responsible for approximately 55,000 hospitalizations (1 in 73 infants) in the USA each year.