A recent study out of Australia has found a connection between the common childhood infection, rotavirus, and the onset and progression of type 1 diabetes.
Rotavirus is an extremely common viral infection responsible for serious cases of diarrhea in infants and young children. which can lead to dehydration. A majority of children suffer from the condition at some point in their young lives. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, develops when pancreatic beta cells are destroyed and stop producing insulin.
Non-obese diabetic mice, which have been shown in the past to be a reliable animal model for human type 1 diabetes, were infected with varying strains of rotavirus (specifically, murine rotaviruses and rhesus monkey rotavirus). For prediabetic mice, the rotaviruses were observed to have the effect of accelerating the onset of diabetes. For mice already afflicted with diabetes, rotaviruses were shown to accelerate the symptoms of diabetes.
If these results are confirmed in a human model, it serves as a strong warning for certain high risk children. For those children with a genetic link to diabetes, or those showing prediabetic warning signs, when afflicted with rotavirus, careful attention would need to be paid to their condition in relation to diabetes.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Slijepcevic, Carrie. American Society for Microbiology news release. July 2008.