We determined titers of group A rotavirus common antibodies and neutralizing antibodies against serotypes 1 to 4 of prototype human rotavirus (HRV) in cord blood and serum specimens obtained from 38 infants at 4-month intervals from birth until 2 years of age. Nineteen of the infants developed one episode of HRV diarrhea each, and they were matched by age and birth weight with the other 19 infants, who did not develop HRV diarrhea during the follow-up period. We estimated the incidence rate of HRV infection for the two groups of infants combined to be a minimum of 1.34 episodes per infant per year, which is 22 times more common than the occurrence of overt disease caused by the virus in this community. The infection occurred constantly throughout the first 2 years of infancy, whereas all but one of the 19 episodes of overt disease occurred before 12 months of age. Seven of these overt episodes were preceded by at least one episode of subclinical infection earlier, and the other seven were probably due to primary HRV infection. The remaining five episodes occurred before 4 months of age, so that we could not ascertain whether they were due to primary infections because of the presence of maternal antibodies. We showed that levels of HRV antibodies in serum specimens obtained before clinical onset of diarrhea varied widely, and, for most infants in the diarrheal group, levels of these antibodies were similar to those in the serum specimens obtained at the same times from the corresponding age- and birth weight-matched control infants. Nevertheless, the age at which overt disease caused by HRV was most prevalent coincided with the time when the maternal antibodies had declined to low levels but the infants had not yet acquired high titers of these antibodies in their sera
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