What is rotavirus?
Rotavirus is classified in the Reoviridae family and is one of several viruses known to affect the intestinal tract causing gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.
Symptoms can include severe diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and dehydration. Rotavirus is often the most common cause of diarrhoea in babies and young children worldwide. It has been noted that almost all children under the age of 5 will likely have at least one rotavirus infection.
Although an unpleasant infection, symptoms can be easily treated at home. If symptoms are not properly treated, death is not uncommon due to severe dehydration, particularly in developing countries.
It is very important to treat rotavirus with extra fluids to prevent dehydration in the body. On occasion, dehydration may require intravenous fluids in hospital.
Infections are most easily spread between young children, and sometimes adults. Once an infection occurs it can take up to 2 days before a person begins to feel unwell. Vomiting and diarrhoea may last between 3 and 8 days.
Vaccination against the virus can help prevent infections, particularly in infants. The best means of prevention for older children and adults is frequent hand-washing.