Summary Overview

This virus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in young children and can cause dehydration and even death. Nearly every child in the U.S. is exposed to rotavirus before their 5th birthday.


Basics

Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children, but older children and adults can become with rotavirus as well.

Symptoms of Rotavirus-
  • Severe watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration (decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, dizziness)
Transmission-

Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children. It is possible to spread the virus before and after a child is sick with diarrhea. The virus spreads when an infected person and the virus enters a person’s mouth (fecal-oral route).

Rotavirus can be spread through contaminated:

  • Hands
  • Objects such as toys or surfaces
  • Food
  • Water

How to Handle Rotavirus


Recommendations

Treatment:
  • There are no antiviral drugs to treat the infection.
  • Since rotavirus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration can occur.
  • The best way to protect against dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solutions are available over the counter and most food and drug stores.
  • In the case of severe dehydration, hospitalization may be required for treatment.
Prevention:
  • Maintain good hygiene and cleanliness through hand washing
  • Rotavirus vaccines are the most effective in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis, diarrhea and other associated symptoms
  • The vaccines are very effective (85% to 98%) in preventing severe rotavirus disease in infants and young children, including rotavirus infection that requires hospitalization


Related Facts

Each year in the United States rotavirus causes:

  • More than 400,000 doctor visits
  • More than 200,000 kids go to the emergency room
  • 50,000 to 70,000 kids to be hospitalized

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