What is rotavirus?

What is rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children. It is the most common cause of diarrheal disease in children worldwide. 

Rotavirus infection is usually mild, but it can be serious in some cases, leading to dehydration and even death.

Rotavirus is spread through the fecal-oral route, which means that the virus is passed from the stool of an infected person to the mouth of another person. This can happen through contact with contaminated surfaces, food, or water, or through close personal contact.

The symptoms of rotavirus infection usually start within 2 days of exposure to the virus. They include:

  • Severe, watery diarrhea

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

In some cases, rotavirus infection can lead to dehydration, which is a serious condition that can be fatal. Dehydration occurs when the body loses too much fluids, which can lead to low blood pressure, shock, and organ failure.

There is no specific treatment for rotavirus infection. Treatment is usually supportive, which means that it focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing dehydration. This includes drinking plenty of fluids, taking over-the-counter medications to relieve diarrhea and vomiting, and getting plenty of rest.

There are two rotavirus vaccines available in the United States. These vaccines are highly effective at preventing rotavirus infection and its complications. The vaccines are recommended for all infants.

Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of rotavirus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers, using the bathroom, and before eating.
  • Teach your children to wash their hands often.
  • Make sure your children do not put their fingers or toys in their mouths.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick with rotavirus.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with rotavirus.

If you think your child may have rotavirus, see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent dehydration and other complications.

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