- Brain Foods: Healthy Food for Kids' Brains
- Childhood Illnesses Picture Slideshow
- Take the ADHD Quiz
- Patient Comments: Rotavirus - Describe Your Experience
- Patient Comments: Rotavirus - Symptoms and Signs
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
- Rotavirus infection facts
- What is rotavirus?
- What causes rotavirus infections?
- Rotavirus vs. norovirus
- What are risk factors for rotavirus infection?
- Can adults get a rotavirus infection?
- What is the incubation period for rotavirus?
- What are rotavirus infection symptoms and signs?
- Is rotavirus contagious? How long is rotavirus contagious?
- How is rotavirus transmitted?
- What specialists treat rotavirus infection?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose a rotavirus infection?
- What is the treatment for a rotavirus infection?
- What is the prognosis of a rotavirus infection?
- Can a vaccine prevent rotavirus infections? Are any side effects associated with the rotavirus vaccine?
What causes rotavirus infections?
The rotavirus is a member of the Reoviridae family of viruses and contains double-stranded RNA enclosed by a double-shelled outer layer (capsid). Infection with different strains of the virus is possible, so it is common to have several separate rotavirus infections in childhood. Adults may also become infected, but the resulting illness is usually less severe than that in infants and young children.
Rotavirus vs. norovirus
Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. About 50%-70% of cases of gastroenteritis in adults are caused by noroviruses, whereas rotavirus most typically affects young children. Like rotavirus, norovirus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Noroviruses can be transmitted by consuming contaminated food and liquids, touching objects contaminated with norovirus and then placing the hands or fingers in the mouth, direct contact with an infected individual, and contact with infected individuals and objects in day-care centers and nursing homes.
What are risk factors for rotavirus infection?
Infants and children are most commonly infected with rotavirus. Since rotavirus infection is highly contagious, those who are around infected people are at high risk of infection. For this reason, children in group day-care settings are at risk. However, most children will become infected with rotavirus by 3 years of age.
Can adults get a rotavirus infection?
Yes, it is possible for anyone to develop a rotavirus infection. However, most adults who become infected have only minor symptoms, or may not have symptoms at all. Since neither vaccination nor previous infection provides full immunity, it is possible to get rotavirus infection more than once. The first infection tends to produce more severe symptoms than subsequent infections, and vaccination is very effective in infants in preventing severe symptoms (see below).