All about Rotavirus

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Read this article for facts about the rotavirus infection...

Almost all children get infected with Rotavirus by the time they reach the age of 52.Find out about this infection and what you can do to protect your children against it.

What is rotavirus?1

rotavirus

  • Rotavirus disease is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among babies and childrenThe disease is caused by a virus named rotavirus.
  • There are different strains of rotavirus, and multiple infections by these different strains can occur.
  • The virus is shed in high amounts in the stools of an infected individual.
  • The virus enters the body through the mouth and infects the intestinal lining.

How serious is the rotavirus infection?

rotavirus

  • Rotavirus infection is nearly universal, with approximately 95% of children experiencing rotavirus gastroenteritis by the age of 52.
  • A study by the KK Women’s and Children’s hospital shows that nearly 40% of diarrhoea-related hospitalisations in Singapore are caused by rotavirus infections3.
  • In babies and young kids, this virus can cause complications such as severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. This is due to ongoing loss of body fluids caused by persistent diarrhoea, vomiting and fever1.

Signs and symptoms

rotavirus

It may not always be easy to spot the signs of rotavirus infection but do watch out for these symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea (up to 20 times a day)4
  • Vomiting (up to 15 times a day)4
  • Fever (39.4 degrees Celsius or higher)5
  • Abdominal pain1
  • Loss of appetite1

Babies and toddlers between the ages of 3-24 months are at greatest risk for developing severe disease from rotavirus infection6.  

For early protection against rotavirus, the rotavirus vaccine can be administered as soon as your baby turns 6 weeks old7.

Is Rotavirus contagious?

rotavirus

  • Rotavirus is highly contagious and infectious1. It can quickly spread from person to person via contaminated surfaces, hands and objects1. The virus can stay alive on contaminated surfaces for days because of its resistant nature8.
  • A study shows that among 102 adults caring for children with rotavirus infection, 36 adults were infected9.
  • Transmission of rotavirus within families from children to parents seems to be quite common9.
  • Evidence also suggests that even simple casual contacts such via playgroups can result in adults being infected9.

Caring for a child infected with Rotavirus can be tough to handle. The uncertainty of the child transmitting the virus to other members of the family has the potential to make the situation even more stressful.

Don’t let your baby and family become victims of rotavirus disease. Talk to your doctors about early prevention.

References:

  1. Health Promotion Board; Available from www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/persona_article/Parent___10512; Last viewed 2 May 2014.
  2. Bernstein D et al; Rotavirus Overview; The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal; Pediatr Infect Dis J; 2009, March, Volume 28; 3; S50-53.
  3. Phua et al. Hospital Based Surveillance of RVGE in Singapore WPCCID 2010.
  4. NIAID NIH News; Oral Vaccine Protects Infants from Severe Rotavirus Diarrhoea First Success in a Developing Country; Available from www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/1997/Pages/rotavirus.aspx; :Last viewed 11 Dec 2013
  5. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; Tools for healthier lives: Rotavirus; Available from www.mayoclinic.com/health/rotavirus/DS00783; Last viewed 11 Dec 2013.
  6. Penelope HD, et al; Rotavirus vaccines: An overview; Clin Microbiol Rev; 2008, January, Volume 21; 1; 198-208.
  7. Cortese M et al; Prevention of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis Among Infants and Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP); Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2009, February, Volume 58, 2; 1-25.
  8. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital; Study shows rotavirus causes nearly 40% of acute gastroenterology hospitalisations among young children in Singapore; Available from www.kkh.com.sg/AboutUs/PressRelease/Pages/29-09-11.aspx; Last viewed 2 Dec 2013.
  9. Anderson EJ, Weber SG; Rotavirus infection in adults; The Lancet Infectious Diseases; 2004, February, Volume 4; 95-96

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