What is rotavirus?
Rotavirus is a type of virus that mainly affects children who are aged between 2 and 3 years. According to a recent study by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) rotavirus is the common cause of diarrhea in children. In a number of infants as well as children, the diarrhea can be so bad that it causes dehydration and as such hospitalization of the child.
Facts about the rotavirus
Listed below, are some of the common facts about rotavirus that every parent needs to know:
- Rotavirus is quite contagious and as such can effortlessly be spread through contact with an infected surface or person.
- The infection causes at least 60,000 children to be hospitalized every year in the US. This is a far cry from the 600,000 children that are hospitalized in other parts of the globe.
- The virus can survive for a couple of days on a solid surface, for example, toys, tables and door knobs.
- The infection is quite common during autumn and winter.
- The virus affects mostly children who are aged between 2 and 3 years.
- The primary cause of the infection is poor hygiene.
- The objective of the treatment is to deter possible complications that may be triggered as a result of dehydration.
The good news is that doctors and scientists have developed a vaccine that can be used to prevent the virus from occurring in children.
Incubation period of the rotavirus
The incubation period of rotavirus is between 1 and 2 days. The signs and symptoms tend to develop 24-48 hours after the initial exposure. Whereas most forms of viruses are usually contagious during the treatment and recovery period, rotavirus is contagious during the incubation period, treatment and recovery period. Since the immune system of children is still developing, they tend to be more contagious compared to adults. Therefore, a child suffering from rotavirus should be kept in quarantine for at least 10 days after treatment so as to minimize spread of the disease.
Common causes of the rotavirus
According to several medical studies, the rotavirus is primarily caused by coming into contact with fecal matter. Failing to wash your hands after visiting the toilet or after changing a baby’s diaper can cause the spread of the infection. Therefore, before eating or handling food, you need to make sure that your hands are clean. The same habit should be inculcated in children so that they too can curb the spread of the disease.
Besides fecal-oral contact, the rotavirus can also be spread through coughing and sneezing, even though less prevalent. The infection is also quit common during autumn and fall since the virus thrives well in low temperatures.
Signs and symptoms of rotavirus
The signs and symptoms of rotavirus tend to vary from slight to severe. As pointed out earlier, it may take up to 48 hours before the infection starts to manifest after the initial exposure. Whereas the signs and symptoms tend to differ from one person to the other, listed below are some of the common symptoms displayed by children suffering from rotavirus:
- Nausea which is accompanied by vomiting.
- Intestinal pains.
- Slight fever that tends to subside after 2-4 days.
- Watery diarrhea that tends to persist for at least 8 days.
Dehydration is the other symptom that occurs in children as a result of severe diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, it is crucial that you take your child to a doctor as soon as you start to notice irritability, dry mouth, thirst, lethargy, mottling, decreased production of tears, sunken eyes, reduced urine output and loss of elasticity in the skin.
When should you consider seeing a doctor?
- Severe diarrhea or bloody spots in their fecal matter.
- Irritability in your child.
- Increased frequency in vomiting.
- High fever.
- Signs of dehydration.
How to prepare for doctor’s appointment
Treatment often depends on diagnosis. Since rotavirus tends to display the same types of symptoms as other types of viruses, it is crucial that you prepare adequately for the doctor’s appointment. Listed below are some of the things you need to have at hand when heading to the doctor’s office:
How long has your child been experiencing the symptoms and when did you first notice the signs?
Are the symptoms severe? For instance, does your child vomit or diarrhea a lot? What is the frequency of vomiting and diarrhea?
Are the symptoms improving or getting worse?
Are there other symptoms that you have noticed in your child besides the ones mentioned above?
As you wait to take your child to the doctor, you need to give him/her a lot of water. Avoid feeding your child carbonated or sugary drinks. As a means of minimizing stress on the intestinal tract, give your child bland foods.
What types of complications can rotavirus cause?
The only complication that rotavirus can cause is severe dehydration, which may in turn cause your child to be hospitalized. To avoid complications, you need to take your child as soon as possible to a doctor the instant you notice the signs of dehydration.
Prevention and treatment
The best form of treatment for rotavirus is prevention. But, how can you prevent the spread of the virus in the first place? There are several ways through which you can curb the spread of rotavirus from one child to the other. For instance:
- Ensuring that your child’s clothes are washed properly.
- Encouraging your child to wash his/her hands before eating.
- Urging your child to wash their hands after visiting the toilet.
- Ensuring that contaminated surfaces are sanitized in order to prevent spread of the infection through contact.
- Make certain that fruits and vegetables are washed using running water before being fed to a child.
Therefore, you can ensure that your child is safe from rotavirus by simply observing hygiene. Then again, you need to take your child for rotavirus vaccination if he/she is below the age of 3 years.