Serum and fecal samples collected from children with gastroenteritis and healthy children and adults living in Efate, Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides), were tested for the presence of human rotavirus antigen or antibody by electron microscopy and enzymelinked immunosorbent assay. Virtually every subject was found to have detectable levels of antibody and age-specific studies showed that primary infections occur early in life. Human rotavirus was demonstrated to be the cause of an outbreak of gastroenteritis among children which occurred between August and September 1980, although it had not been detected in the population in the preceding 13 months. Epidemics of human rotavirus-associated gastroenteritis appear to occur every 2nd year in this population.
Senior Physician, Vanuatu Government.
Consultant Technologist, South Pacific Commission.