What is Rotavirus? Know its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Rotavirus is an infected virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea (watery stools) particularly among infants and young children. Adults can also be affected but they tend to get less sick than young children. The risk of rotavirus infection is highest in winter and spring (December to June).
Rotavirus is highly contagious. It is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with the feces (stools) of an infected person. This can happen if you touch a contaminated object, food, water, hands or mouth of an infected person. The virus enters your body when your unclean hands touch your nose or mouth.
Symptoms of Rotavirus
It usually takes about 48 hours after initial exposure to rotavirus before symptoms develop. This period is called the "incubation period" for the virus. These symptoms are
- High fever
- Pain in the abdomen
- Excessive fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Causes of Rotavirus
Anyone can be infected with rotavirus at any age. You can catch the virus through exposure to food or objects that are contaminated with it. It is transmitted by the oral-fecal route, which means that a person carrying the virus can spread it by touching objects or preparing food without washing the hands properly after using the washroom.
This virus attacks the lining of the small intestine through the physiological process of osmosis, fluids and electrolytes flow into the digestive system, causing abdominal cramps, weight loss, low blood pressure, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.
How to prevent the spread of Rotavirus?
- If your baby is infected with rotavirus, be careful to wash your hands after changing diapers and before preparing food, serving, or eating.
- Use liquid soap in warm running water. Dry your hands well after washing.
- Clean the toilets regularly with a disinfectant. Clean the flush handles, toilet seats, sink faucets, bathroom surfaces, and doorknobs with hot water and detergent. Disposable towels should be used.
- It is best for infected children and adults to stay away from childcare centers, schools, work and other places so that they do not infect other people.
What vaccines can be taken for Rotavirus?
To prevent rotavirus infection and reduce its complications, parents should make sure their children receive the vaccine, which is available in two forms.
- Rotarix:This vaccine is given in two doses to infants aged 2 months and 4 months.
- RotaTeq:The vaccine is given orally in three doses, often at 2, 4, and 6 months.
Children with a history of severe combined immune deficiency or those who are already seriously ill should not take the vaccine.
Treatment and Home Remedies for Rotavirus
If you have rotavirus, you can usually treat your illness at home with a few simple methods
- Hydration:The most important thing you can do is focus on staying hydrated. It is important to drink water. If you prefer the taste, you might consider an oral rehydration solution or an energy drink that contains electrolytes, effective in treating vomit or diarrhea.
- Diet:Eat cake or toast as these are usually the most tolerable foods. Avoid food that upsets your stomach, such as oily, fried or spicy foods.
- Rest:Try to rest during illness so you don't feel tired.
- Medications:Over-the-counter diarrhea medications can prevent stomach upset and relieve your diarrhea, but remember that they often have little effect.
When to call your doctor?
Most people can manage rotavirus on their own, but medical care is needed in some cases.
Call your doctor or seek emergency medical help if you or your child experience any of the following
- Fever over 100 degrees
- Fever that lasts more than three or four days
- Blood in the stool or dark stools
- Vomiting blood
- Lethargy (extreme fatigue)
- Very little or no urine
- Weak or fast heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Cold sensation in hands and feet
- Hard to breathe
- Difficulty in walking or standing