- Rotavirus is a contagious virus that can cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines).
- 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.
Who is at risk for Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is most common in infants and young children, but older children and adults can become with rotavirus as well.
How is Rotavirus spread?
Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children. Children can spread the virus both before and after they become sick with diarrhea. They can also pass rotavirus to family members and other people with whom they have close contact. Rotavirus can be spread by contaminated:
- Objects (toys, surfaces)
Children are most likely to get rotavirus in the winter and spring (December through June).
Children who get infected may have severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Vomiting and watery diarrhea can last from 3 to 8 days. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids), which can be especially dangerous for infants and young children.
Symptoms of dehydration include
- decrease in urination,
- dry mouth and throat and
- feeling dizzy when standing up.
A dehydrated child may also
- cry with few or no tears and
- be unusually sleepy or fussy.
Adults who get rotavirus disease tend to have milder symptoms.
- 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.
- 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