Rotavirus FAQs

Rotavirus FAQs

How long does rotavirus last?

Most will develop symptoms within 48 hours of an infection. Symptoms can last between 3 and 8 days. High concentrations of the virus, however, can remain in the stool for between 10 and 12 days after symptoms begin.

Is rotavirus just a kids’ illness?

No, adults can get infected with rotavirus too, in much the same way as children. Adults, however, tend to experience milder symptoms.

Infants and young children between the ages of 6 and 24 months are at a greater risk of more severe rotavirus infections. Babies and young children can easily become dehydrated and severely so. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening.

There’s no reliable way to predict how an infection will affect your little one, and so it is important to monitor and treat symptoms carefully.

If in any doubt, consult your physician or medical professional as soon as possible.

Why is dehydration serious for babies and small children?

Rapid loss of fluids accompanied by vomiting and diarrhoea can lead to either a mild or severe case of dehydration. Thus, the body loses valuable nutrients and salts (electrolytes) that it needs.

This is particularly dangerous for babies under 1 year of age due to their small body weights, and even more so if there are symptoms of fever too. If severe dehydration occurs, rehydration using intravenous fluids (IV) in hospital may be necessary.

Shock or convulsions are common complications with severe dehydration symptoms and can be life-threatening if not adequately treated.

Can I keep my child from being exposed to rotavirus?

Rotavirus is widespread and as such, is difficult to prevent altogether. Better hygiene and sanitation helps, but cannot prevent even a vaccinated person, from becoming infected and falling ill.

Infections can occur in even the cleanest of environments and can happen to a person more than once during their lifetime.

Recurring infections, however, do tend to be less severe. Vaccinations and good hygiene practices are your best odds of reducing the likelihood of infections.

What risk factors and complications are associated with rotavirus?

Rotavirus infections can occur in anyone, but are most common in young children, particularly between the ages of 3 to 35 months. Children, and adults alike, who spend time in child care facilities (nursery school, crèche or play school) are often most at risk of infection.

Dehydration is the biggest red flag for serious complications, especially in youngsters. If insufficiently treated, dehydration can become life-threatening, regardless of its cause.

Can rotavirus be prevented?

Hygiene and healthy sanitation habits are important to help reduce the risk of frequent rotavirus infections. Strict hand-washing, however, doesn’t offer any guarantees of prevention altogether. It can only significantly minimise the risk.

Rotavirus vaccine, gloves and syringe.

Vaccines can also help minimise risk. There are two known vaccines against the rotavirus:

  • RotaTeq: This vaccine is usually given orally in 3 doses to babies and small children. The vaccine is safe to be given at the ages of 2 months, 4 months and 6 months.
  • Rotarix: This liquid vaccine is given in two doses to infants between the ages of 2 and 4 months.
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