What is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe, watery diarrhea, and in severe cases, dehydration. Many children will contract rotavirus by the time they turn five years old because the virus is highly contagious and readily passed in daycare centers and schools.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of rotavirus include a high fever, along with nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and abdominal pain in addition to the watery diarrhea. The rotavirus can also cause congestion, coughing and a runny nose. Children are more susceptible to get rotavirus, but adults can contract the virus as well. Adults sometimes do not exhibit any symptoms.
What Diseases Does it Cause?
Rotavirus causes gastroenteritis, which is a condition in which the intestines and stomach become inflamed. In addition, if the sufferers are not drinking enough fluids, they may become severely dehydrated.
How is it Treated?
Rotavirus is a virus, and as a result there is no cure for it. The treatment typically includes managing the fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and keeping the patient hydrated. If patients feel well enough to eat, they can eat normally. However, if the vomiting is severe, they might eat smaller portions of food until he is able to keep the food down successfully.
How Do I Prevent Illness?
Hand washing is the best defense against this virus, because it is passed through contact with contaminated items. Children should wash their hands before and after eating, and after using the toilet. Day care workers should wash their hands before preparing food and after changing diapers. Hand washing is particularly important in the winter months, when outbreaks of the virus are the most common.
Is There a Vaccination?
Currently, two vaccines are approved for use in the United States: RotaTeq® and Rotarix®. These vaccines are administered to children as part of their routine immunizations in many states, but in other states you may have to ask your pediatrician for the vaccine.
Take your child to a physician if you suspect she has rotavirus. She or he will need to be monitored for high fever and dehydration.