Almost every child has experienced Rotavirus and the accompanying diarrhea by the age of 5. It can affect anyone but symptoms are more severe in infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. In most cases this condition can be managed at home, but some severe cases may require hospitalization for management.
Causes and Prevention of Rotavirus Diarrhea
Occurring during the months of winter and spring in the United States Rotavirus is highly contagious. Children who attend daycare or are hospitalized are at particular high risk of contracting it, but everyone is at risk. This virus is easy spread by the hand to mouth method. This virus can lay dormant in an infected person for several days and during this time it remains just as infectious as when there are active symptoms. The virus can be spread by anything touched by an infected person including toys, food, furnishings, doorknobs, the hand of a person who touched one of these items that was contaminated already and even through droplets that landed on a surface from a cough or sneeze.
- Frequently washing your hands and teaching your children good hand washing is a good way to help lessen the chances that your child will contract Rotavirus infection.
- Disinfect toys, especially if your child has siblings or playmates
- Use disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, telephones, stair rails, light switches, water faucet handles, toilet handles and seats, counters and furnishings in your home, especially during the spring and winter months
- Babies under the age of 32 weeks can receive an immunization for Rotavirus
Treatments for Rotavirus Diarrhea
No specific treatment is known for Rotavirus. Since it is a virus, antibiotics do not treat the infection. The virus will normally resolve itself within 3 to 8 days. Measures to treat the symptoms of the virus are mainly focused on preventing dehydration related to the rotavirus diarrhea.
Keep your child as comfortable as possible, offer as much oral fluids as they will accept, you may want to use fluids that contain electrolytes such as Pedialyte to help replace lost minerals and fluids. If severe diarrhea is present your child may require intravenous fluids to prevent or reverse dehydration.
Rotavirus Diarrhea can lead to Dehydration
Rotavirus diarrhea is caused by Rotavirus which is extremely contagious. This factor of the virus can be very dangerous in that it can lead to dehydration. Infants and small children will dehydrate faster than adults and therefore should be observed closely for symptoms of dehydration such as a dry mouth, crying without tears, a decrease in urination or no urination. They may develop an elevated temperature and become lethargic, non responsive or just overly sleepy. If your child is experiencing diarrhea and these symptoms are noticed you need to seek emergency care immediately.