oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Rotavirus in South Africa : from discovery to vaccine introduction : Festschrift

Volume 26, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



Rotavirus was first detected by electron microscopy in young children with diarrhoea in South Africa in 1976, and 25 years later rotavirus vaccine was introduced into the routine childhood immunisation schedule in the country. Prof Barry Schoub played a role in both these events and in many milestones along that journey, from discovery to introduction. Several seminal findings were identified by Schoub et al in the early years after rotavirus identification in South Africa, including the antigenic relatedness of rotavirus strains, and several important epidemiological and clinical findings. This laid the foundation for the role that South Africa has played in pioneering rotavirus research work in, and for, Africa. Early efforts at establishing a regional network for rotavirus epidemiology and surveillance studies have expanded into a continent-wide network using standardised protocols with reporting to the World Health Organization. In addition, clinical studies conducted in South Africa paved the way for the national introduction of the vaccine, while also addressing specific questions of relevance to the global community, including safety in HIV-infected children and efficacy in an African population.

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