Rotavirus

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Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children. However, older children and adults also can get sick from rotavirus. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear.

Children who get infected may have severe watery diarrhoea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Vomiting and watery diarrhoea 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.

Children, even those that are vaccinated, may get sick from rotavirus more than once. That is because neither natural infection with rotavirus nor rotavirus vaccination provides full protection from future infections. Usually a person’s first time getting rotavirus causes the most severe symptoms. However, vaccinated children are much less likely to get sick from rotavirus, and if they do get sick, their symptoms are usually less severe than unvaccinated children.

Transmission

Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children. Children can spread the virus both before and after they become sick with diarrhoea. They can also pass rotavirus to family members and other people with whom they have close contact.

People who are infected with rotavirus shed rotavirus in their faeces (poop) – this is often how the virus spreads from a person’s body to other people and into the environment. They shed the virus most when they are sick and during the first 3 days after they recover.

The virus spreads by the faecal-oral route; this means the virus is shed by an infected person and then enters a susceptible person’s mouth to cause infection. Rotavirus can be spread by contaminated

  • Hands
  • Objects (toys, surfaces)
  • Food
  • Water

Children are most likely to get rotavirus in the winter and spring (December through June).

Prevention

Rotavirus spreads easily. Good hygiene like handwashing and cleanliness are important, but are not enough to control the spread of the disease.

Rotavirus vaccine is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus illness. Most children (about 9 out of 10) who get the vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus illness. While about 7 out of 10 children will be protected from rotavirus illness. CDC recommends routine vaccination of infants with either of the two available vaccines:

  • RotaTeq® (RV5), which is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months; or
  • Rotarix® (RV1), which is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months.

Both rotavirus vaccines are given orally.

Rotavirus vaccines do not prevent diarrhea or vomiting caused by other viruses or pathogens.

Treatment

There is no specific medicine to treat rotavirus infection, but your doctor may recommend medicines to treat symptoms.  There is no antiviral drug to treat it, and antibiotic drugs will not help because antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses.

Rotavirus infection can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. This can lead to dehydration (loss of body fluids). Infants and young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses are most at risk of dehydration.

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.

The best way to protect against dehydration is to drink plenty of liquids. Oral rehydration solutions that you can get over the counter in U.S. food and drug stores are most helpful for mild dehydration. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids, which are given to patients directly through their veins. If you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, contact your doctor.

Vaccination

Rotavirus is a virus that spreads easily among infants and young children. The virus can cause severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Children who get rotavirus disease can become dehydrated and may need to be hospitalized.

Rotavirus vaccine is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus illness. Most children (about 9 out of 10) who get the vaccine will be protected from severe rotavirus illness. While about 7 out of 10 children will be protected from rotavirus illness.

Two rotavirus vaccines are currently licensed for use in infants in the United States:

  • RotaTeq® (RV5) is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months
  • Rotarix® (RV1) is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months

Both vaccines are given by mouth (orally), not by a shot. The first dose of either vaccine is most effective if it is given before a child is 15 weeks of age. Also, children should receive all doses of rotavirus vaccine before they turn 8 months old.

Source: Centre for Disease control and Prevention

http://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/vaccination.html

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