Rotavirus

RotavirusRotavirus is an infection that is found in the stool (poop) of an infected person. Almost all unimmunized children will have at least one rotavirus infection by their fifth birthday. Rotavirus usually affects children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. Older children and adults can also get rotavirus, but it is generally milder.

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Symptoms

Rotavirus infection causes fever, stomach pain, vomiting (throwing up) as well as diarrhea that can last up to 7 days. Fever and vomiting are usually the first symptoms that appear 1 to 3 days after a person has come into contact with the virus.

Causes

Rotavirus is spread easily by a person coming into contact with infected stool (poop) and then touching their mouth (i.e. fecal-oral route of transmission). Rotavirus can live on the surface of infected objects, such as toys and diapers, and can survive on unwashed hands.

Treatment

There is no specific medicine, antibiotic or antiviral drug, to treat rotavirus. Current treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms while rotavirus runs its course.

If rotavirus is left untreated, severe and frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting can lead to dehydration in young children, which can result in hospitalization (for intravenous (IV) fluids), and in severe cases, death. Infants and young children are most at risk of dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration in your child may include:

  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in urination (peeing)
  • Crying with few or no tears
  • Extreme sleepiness or fussiness

It is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Prevention

Rotavirus can be prevented among infants through immunization with an oral vaccine. Manitoba has a provincial immunization program, which provides free, publicly-funded vaccines to those who are eligible.

Other precautions can be taken, including frequent hand washing with soap and water.

Children infected with rotavirus infection should stay home, particularly from daycare, for up to 48 hours since they last vomited or had diarrhea, to help stop the spread of rotavirus.


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