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Health Information For Parents
Rotavirus is a common virus that infects the linings of the intestines. It causes vomiting and diarrhea, especially in babies and young children. Childcare centers are a common site of infection outbreaks.
Rotavirus immunizations are recommended for most children, and can prevent many rotavirus infections.
Kids with a rotavirus infection have:
They also might have a cough and runny nose. As with all viruses, though, some rotavirus infections cause few or no symptoms, especially in adults.
Sometimes the diarrhea is so severe that it can quickly lead to dehydration. A child who’s dehydrated might:
Yes, rotavirus passes easily from one person to another. Infections are common during the winter and spring months, especially in group settings like childcare centers.
The virus passes in the stool (poop) of infected people before and after they have symptoms. Kids can become infected if they put their fingers in their mouths after touching a contaminated surface, like a toy. Usually this happens when kids don’t wash their hands often enough, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
People who care for kids, including health care and childcare workers, also can spread the virus, especially if they don’t wash their hands after changing diapers.
Each year in the U.S., rotavirus infections:
Severe infections, called rotavirus gastroenteritis, are the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children.
These infections cause relatively few U.S. deaths. But rotavirus-related diarrhea causes more than half a million deaths worldwide every year, especially in developing countries.
Babies and toddlers who are dehydrated may need treatment in a hospital. They’ll get intravenous (IV) fluids to bring the body’s fluid and salt levels back to normal. Most older kids can be treated at home.
Your doctor may need to test your child’s blood, pee, or stool to confirm that the diarrhea is being caused by rotavirus and not by bacteria. Antibiotics only work against illnesses caused by bacteria. So, the doctor will not prescribe antibiotics to treat a rotavirus infection.
To prevent dehydration, follow your doctor’s advice about what your child should eat and drink. Your doctor may suggest that you give your child special drinks that replace body fluids, especially if the diarrhea has lasted for more than 2 or 3 days.
Kids with mild diarrhea who are not dehydrated should eat as usual but drink more fluids. Avoid fruit juices and soft drinks, which can make diarrhea worse. Those with mild to moderate dehydration should drink small amounts of an oral rehydration solution often. They can go back to eating as usual when they’re better. Breastfed children continue breastfeeding throughout.
A child who is vomiting will need to eat smaller amounts of food more often. Don’t give your child over-the-counter medicines for vomiting or diarrhea unless your doctor recommends them.
The rotavirus vaccine can prevent many causes of rotavirus. The vaccine is a liquid given by mouth to babies at ages 2 and 4 months, and again at 6 months, depending on the vaccine brand.
Washing hands well and often is the best way to limit the spread of rotavirus infection. Kids with rotavirus should stay home from childcare until the diarrhea is gone.
Call the doctor if your child has signs of a rotavirus infection, such as:
Call right away if your child has signs of dehydration.
Intussusception is the most common cause of bowel blockages in very young children. Quick treatment can help them recover without lasting problems.
Which vaccines does your child need and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.
Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease.
Immunizations protect kids from many dangerous diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.
Sometimes kids lose fluids and salts through fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating. Here are some tips on preventing or treating dehydration.
Most kids battle diarrhea from time to time, so it’s importantÂ to know what to do to relieve and even prevent it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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