Even though most parents are not as familiar with rotavirus as with other viruses such as the flu or common cold, rotavirus is considered as a common cause of infections among children. Generally, rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among young children and often responsible for triggering outbreaks in daycare centers as well as in schools.
It is important to note that rotavirus is quite common during the winter and early spring months, often during the flu and RSV season.
Symptoms of rotavirus
Children tend to develop symptoms of rotavirus infection in 1-3 days after exposure to an individual sick with the rotavirus infection. The usual symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. Even though fever and vomiting usually lasts for only a few days, the diarrhea often persists for 3-8 days or longer.
How rotavirus infection is diagnosed
Even though rapid antigen stool test is readily available, the diagnosis of rotavirus infection is done clinically. It simply means without testing and based on the symptoms of the child, particularly if rotavirus infections are spreading in the community.
The testing for rotavirus is vital to eliminate other possible causes of diarrhea due to parasites and bacteria or diarrhea lasts longer than expected.
Treatment for rotavirus
It is sad to note that even today, there is no specific treatment or cure for the infection. In most cases, the treatment is focused on preventing and treating dehydration. Remember that persistent diarrhea and vomiting can eventually lead to dehydration.
Vital facts about rotavirus
Rotavirus is considered as the most common cause of severe diarrhea among children. It also resulted to thousands of deaths in children globally every year. It is important to note that children do not develop full immunity to rotavirus infections. Remember that there are a number of sub-types, thus a child can get infected more than once. Nevertheless, repeat infections are usually milder than the first one.
There is a rotavirus vaccine which aims to help reduce the number of rotavirus infections that a child can acquire. Take note that rotavirus is not the only virus that triggers diarrhea and vomiting in children. Other viruses such as norovirus and adenovirus can also cause gastroenteritis. Even parasites and bacteria can also trigger diarrhea.
Since the virus is transmitted via the fecal-oral route, it is important to avoid sharing glasses and cups with others. Other measures to observe include thorough washing of toys and strict hand washing especially in daycare settings. In addition, children can excrete the virus for several days before and for up to 10 days after the diarrhea starts. With this in mind, it is vital to observe these precautions at all times, not only when a child is sick in order to effectively prevent rotavirus infections from occurring in the first place.