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Rotavirus: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About rotavirus

Rotavirus is one of the commonest viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract that causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea in an infected person.

Rotavirus: Incidence, age & sex

Rotavirus infection is one of the most common infections occurring among children between the ages of 3 months and 3 years. It is considered as one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five in developing countries. The adults may get infection but the symptoms of infection are milder in adults as compared to children.

Signs and symptoms of rotavirus: Diagnosis

A child infected by rotavirus may have acute vomiting and watery diarrhoea accompanied with fever and abdominal pain. If not timely treated, the child may develop dehydration, and have symptoms such as dryness of mouth and eyes, no tears while crying, sunken eyes, decreased urine frequency and lethargy.

The diagnosis is mainly done on the basis of signs and symptoms. In some cases, stool sample of child needs to be tested in laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of rotavirus

The rotavirus infection is highly contagious and the virus may be transmitted by people with unwashed hands. A child or an individual can get infection through close contact with an infected person or by touching or using objects contaminated by infected person. It can also be spread by inhaling infected air droplets, or by ingesting food contaminated by infected person while preparing it.

People need to maintain good hygiene to prevent spread of rotavirus infection. It is important to wash hands properly before and after changing the nappies of an infected baby, after visiting the washroom and before preparing, serving or eating food. Ideally, hands should be washed with liquid soap and warm water. Along with proper washing of hands, regular cleaning of toilet and washroom accessories using disinfectants and appropriate disposal of baby’s stool should be done to prevent spread of infection. Parents must encourage the child to develop a habit of washing hands properly especially before eating food and after passing stool.

Rotavirus: Complications

Generally, most patients recover from infection, without developing any major complications. However some patients may develop dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body.

Rotavirus: Treatment

No specific medicine is required to treat rotavirus infection. The treatment is aimed to prevent occurrence of dehydration by providing plenty of fluids until the body recovers its own. Small babies need to be fed frequently and monitor constantly for the signs of dehydration. Most patients recover between 4 to 6 days of infection with proper rest, normal nutritious diet and adequate fluid intake. Sometimes patients suffering from severe symptoms need to be hospitalized. The high temperature may be relieved by antipyretic medicine.