Rotavirus Infection

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Rotavirus is a virus that causes an infection of the intestines. This causes the most severe diarrhea among infants and children worldwide and causes 600,000 annual deaths of children.

Almost all children will be infected with rotavirus by the age of three years. Infection with different strains is possible. After several infections with different strains of virus, children acquire immunity to rotavirus.

The kids aged between 6 and 24 months are at greatest risk of developing severe symptoms after infection with rotavirus. Adults bear the infection quite easily.


1. Overview
2. Symptoms
3. How contagious is it?
4. Diagnosis of rotavirus
5. Treatment
6. Home treatment


The disease caused by rotavirus is most common in infants and young children, but can reach older children or adults too. When a person was exposed to rotavirus, symptoms appear two days after. The manifestations are:
- fever
- vomiting
- diarrhea
- abdominal pain.

Watery diarrhea and vomiting can last between 3 and 8 days in a child infected with rotavirus. Other symptoms include loss of appetite and dehydration. You should be very careful because this infection can be life threatening for infants and small children.

Both vaccinated and the unvaccinated children can be infected with rotavirus several times, because there are different strains of rotavirus and no vaccine or natural immunity to infection does provides total protection for the future (which may be caused by different strains of the past) .

How contagious is it?

The virus is present in the stool of infected people before and after they have symptoms of disease. Children can become infected if they have introduced fingers in your mouth or you touch something that has been contaminated. Usually, this happens when kids were not washing their hands often enough, before eating and after using the toilet.

Diagnosis of rotavirus

Diagnosis will provide the rapid detection of rotavirus from stool samples analyzed. Strains of rotavirus can be detected by special investigations, enzymatic or immunological tests or polymerase chain reaction – but such tests are not common and are not necessary.


An infant or child to be moderate or severe dehydrated will need hospital treatment, liquid given by vein for fluid and salt levels back to normal. Most of the older children, however, can be treated at home.

Your doctor may find it necessary to collect a blood test, urine and stool to confirm that diarrhea caused by rotavirus and not by bacteria.

Because antibiotics work against diseases caused by viruses, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat infection with rotavirus.

Home treatment

In order to prevent dehydration, you should follow the physician indications about the child’s diet. Your doctor may suggest parents to offer special rehydration drinks, especially if diarrhea persists for more than 2-3 days.

In general, children with mild diarrhea who are not dehydrated should continue to eat normally but to receive more fluids. Those suffering from mild to moderate dehydration should drink oral rehydration solution in small amounts frequently to correct dehydration and then return to normal diet. There is no need to stop breastfeeding, if we’re talking about breast-fed children.



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