Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Rotavirus is a virus that infects the bowels. Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and children throughout the world and causes the death of about
500,000 children worldwide annually. The name rotavirus comes from the characteristic wheel-like appearance of the virus when viewed by electron microscopy (the name rotavirus is derived from the Latin
rota, meaning "wheel").
Since 2006, vaccination has been available for rotavirus infection. Prior to the availability of a vaccine, almost all children became infected with rotavirus by their third birthday. Repeat infections with different viral strains are possible, and most children had several episodes of rotavirus infection in the first years of life. After several infections with different strains of the virus, children acquire immunity to rotavirus. Babies and toddlers between the ages of 6 and 24 months are at greatest risk for developing severe disease from rotavirus infection. Adults sometimes become infected, but the resulting illness is usually mild.
Each year in the U.S., prior to the development of the rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus infection resulted in the hospitalization of an estimated 55,000 children, 200,000 emergency-room visits, and
approximately 500,000 visits to doctor's offices. Worldwide, rotavirus infection is still a significant cause of death in infants and children. Rotavirus affects populations in all socioeconomic groups and is equally prevalent in industrialized and developing countries, so differences in sanitation practices or water supply are not likely to affect the incidence of the infection.
In the U.S., rotavirus infections usually peak in the fall months in the Southwest and spread to the
Northeast by spring, so infections are most common during the winter months from November to May. However, infection with rotavirus can occur anytime of the year.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 10/12/2012
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Dennis Lee, MD
A survey of 600 U.S. mothers with children under the age
three revealed that over 70% of mothers have read or heard little or nothing
about rotavirus infection, the most common cause of diarrhea in young children throughout the world. Almost
all children have had multiple rotavirus infections by the time they enter
kindergarten. While the illness is normally self-limited and does not require
special treatment, complications and even death can result from
severe dehydrationthat can occur with rotavirus illness when supportive treatment
(rehydration) is not given. Rotavirus infection is responsible for an estimated
500,000 visits to doctor's offices and 160,000 emergency-room visits among
children each year in the U.S.
Rotavirus symptoms include:
Abdominal painmay also occur, and infected children may
have profuse watery diarrhea up to several times per day. Symptoms can last from
three to nine days. Immunity from repeated infection is incomplete after a rotavirus infection, but
repeated infections tend to be less severe than the original infection.
Rotavirus infection is highly contagious. The primary
mode of transmission of rotavirus is the passage of the virus in stool to the
mouth of another child,
known as a fecal-oral route of transmission. The virus can live for hours on
hands and even longer on hard surfaces. Since the virus is so prevalent, it is
very difficult or even impossible to prevent your child from acquiring a