Disease: Rotavirus Infection

    Rotavirus infection facts

    • Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children throughout the world.
    • Most unvaccinated children become infected with rotavirus by age 3.
    • There are different strains of rotavirus, and multiple infections by different strains may occur.
    • Rotavirus causes fever, vomiting, and watery diarrhea.
    • Rotavirus infection is highly contagious.
    • Rotavirus illness typically resolves on its own after three to nine days.
    • Vaccines to prevent rotavirus infection are available.

    What is rotavirus?

    Rotavirus is a virus that infects the bowels. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children throughout the world and causes the death of about 500,000 children worldwide annually. The name rotavirus comes from the characteristic wheel-like appearance of the virus when viewed by electron microscopy (the name rotavirus is derived from the Latin rota, meaning "wheel").

    Since 2006, vaccination has been available for rotavirus infection. Prior to the availability of a vaccine, almost all children became infected with rotavirus by their third birthday. Repeat infections with different viral strains are possible, and most children had several episodes of rotavirus infection in the first years of life. After several infections with different strains of the virus, children acquire immunity to rotavirus. Babies and toddlers between the ages of 6 and 24 months are at greatest risk for developing severe disease from rotavirus infection. Adults sometimes become infected, but the resulting illness is usually mild.

    Worldwide, rotavirus infection is still a significant cause of death in infants and children. Rotavirus affects populations in all socioeconomic groups and is equally prevalent in industrialized and developing countries, so differences in sanitation practices or water supply are not likely to affect the incidence of the infection.

    In the U.S., rotavirus infections usually peak in the fall months in the Southwest and spread to the Northeast by spring, so infections are most common during the winter months from November to May. However, infection with rotavirus can occur anytime of the year.

    What causes rotavirus infection?

    The rotavirus is a member of the Reoviridae family of viruses and contains double-stranded RNA enclosed by a double-shelled outer layer (capsid). Infection with different strains of the virus is possible, so it is common to have several separate rotavirus infections in childhood. Adults may also become infected, but the resulting illness is usually less severe than that in infants and young children.

    What are risk factors for rotavirus infection?

    Infants and children are most commonly infected with rotavirus. Since rotavirus infection is highly contagious, those who are around infected people are at high risk of infection. For this reason, children in group day-care settings are at risk. However, most children will become infected with rotavirus by 3 years of age.

    What are rotavirus symptoms and signs?

    The time period from initial infection to symptoms (incubation period) for rotavirus disease is around two days. Symptoms of the disease include fever, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. Abdominal pain may also occur, and infected children may have profuse watery diarrhea up to several times per day. Symptoms generally persist for three to nine days. Immunity from repeated infection is incomplete after a rotavirus infection, but repeated infections tend to be less severe than the original infection.

    Rotavirus infection can be associated with severe dehydration in infants and children. Severe dehydration can lead to death in rare cases, so it is important to recognize and treat this complication of rotavirus infection. In addition to the symptoms of rotavirus infection discussed above, parents should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration that can occur with rotavirus infection or with other serious conditions.

    Symptoms of dehydration include

    • lethargy,
    • dry, cool skin,
    • absence of tears when crying,
    • dry or sticky mouth,
    • sunken eyes or sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the head of infants),
    • extreme thirst.

    How is rotavirus spread?

    Rotavirus infection is highly contagious. The primary mode of transmission of rotavirus is the passage of the virus in stool to the mouth of another child. This is known as a fecal-oral route of transmission. Children can transmit the virus when they forget to wash their hands before eating or after using the toilet. Touching a surface that has been contaminated with rotavirus and then touching the mouth area can result in infection.

    There also have been cases of low levels of rotavirus in respiratory-tract secretions and other body fluids. Because the virus is stable (remains infective) in the environment, transmission can occur through ingestion of contaminated water or food and contact with contaminated surfaces. Rotavirus can survive for days on hard and dry surfaces, and it can live for hours on human hands.

    How is rotavirus diagnosed?

    The diagnosis of rotavirus may be made by rapid detection of rotavirus in stool specimens. Strains of rotavirus may be further characterized by special testing with enzyme immunoassay or polymerase chain reaction, but such testing is not commonly available or necessary.

    How is rotavirus treated?

    There is no specific treatment for rotavirus. For people with healthy immune systems, rotavirus infection of the bowel (gastroenteritis) is a self-limited illness, lasting for only a few days. The treatment consists of increased fluid intake (oral rehydration) to prevent dehydration. About one in 40 children with rotavirus infection of the bowel requires hospitalization for intravenous fluid.

    What is the prognosis of rotavirus infection?

    Rotavirus infection is a self-limited disease that resolves after three to nine days of symptoms. Rarely, severe dehydration accompanying rotavirus infection has led to death. Recognition of the condition and proper supportive treatment (rehydration) can prevent serious complications.

    What causes rotavirus infection?

    The rotavirus is a member of the Reoviridae family of viruses and contains double-stranded RNA enclosed by a double-shelled outer layer (capsid). Infection with different strains of the virus is possible, so it is common to have several separate rotavirus infections in childhood. Adults may also become infected, but the resulting illness is usually less severe than that in infants and young children.

    What are risk factors for rotavirus infection?

    Infants and children are most commonly infected with rotavirus. Since rotavirus infection is highly contagious, those who are around infected people are at high risk of infection. For this reason, children in group day-care settings are at risk. However, most children will become infected with rotavirus by 3 years of age.

    What are rotavirus symptoms and signs?

    The time period from initial infection to symptoms (incubation period) for rotavirus disease is around two days. Symptoms of the disease include fever, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. Abdominal pain may also occur, and infected children may have profuse watery diarrhea up to several times per day. Symptoms generally persist for three to nine days. Immunity from repeated infection is incomplete after a rotavirus infection, but repeated infections tend to be less severe than the original infection.

    Rotavirus infection can be associated with severe dehydration in infants and children. Severe dehydration can lead to death in rare cases, so it is important to recognize and treat this complication of rotavirus infection. In addition to the symptoms of rotavirus infection discussed above, parents should be aware of the symptoms of dehydration that can occur with rotavirus infection or with other serious conditions.

    Symptoms of dehydration include

    • lethargy,
    • dry, cool skin,
    • absence of tears when crying,
    • dry or sticky mouth,
    • sunken eyes or sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the head of infants),
    • extreme thirst.

    How is rotavirus spread?

    Rotavirus infection is highly contagious. The primary mode of transmission of rotavirus is the passage of the virus in stool to the mouth of another child. This is known as a fecal-oral route of transmission. Children can transmit the virus when they forget to wash their hands before eating or after using the toilet. Touching a surface that has been contaminated with rotavirus and then touching the mouth area can result in infection.

    There also have been cases of low levels of rotavirus in respiratory-tract secretions and other body fluids. Because the virus is stable (remains infective) in the environment, transmission can occur through ingestion of contaminated water or food and contact with contaminated surfaces. Rotavirus can survive for days on hard and dry surfaces, and it can live for hours on human hands.

    How is rotavirus diagnosed?

    The diagnosis of rotavirus may be made by rapid detection of rotavirus in stool specimens. Strains of rotavirus may be further characterized by special testing with enzyme immunoassay or polymerase chain reaction, but such testing is not commonly available or necessary.

    How is rotavirus treated?

    There is no specific treatment for rotavirus. For people with healthy immune systems, rotavirus infection of the bowel (gastroenteritis) is a self-limited illness, lasting for only a few days. The treatment consists of increased fluid intake (oral rehydration) to prevent dehydration. About one in 40 children with rotavirus infection of the bowel requires hospitalization for intravenous fluid.

    What is the prognosis of rotavirus infection?

    Rotavirus infection is a self-limited disease that resolves after three to nine days of symptoms. Rarely, severe dehydration accompanying rotavirus infection has led to death. Recognition of the condition and proper supportive treatment (rehydration) can prevent serious complications.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    Rotavirus infection is highly contagious. The primary mode of transmission of rotavirus is the passage of the virus in stool to the mouth of another child. This is known as a fecal-oral route of transmission. Children can transmit the virus when they forget to wash their hands before eating or after using the toilet. Touching a surface that has been contaminated with rotavirus and then touching the mouth area can result in infection.

    There also have been cases of low levels of rotavirus in respiratory-tract secretions and other body fluids. Because the virus is stable (remains infective) in the environment, transmission can occur through ingestion of contaminated water or food and contact with contaminated surfaces. Rotavirus can survive for days on hard and dry surfaces, and it can live for hours on human hands.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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