Rotavirus (cont.)

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How is rotavirus spread?

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. This is known as a fecal-oral route of transmission. Children can transmit the virus when they forget to wash their hands before eating or after using the toilet. Touching a surface that has been contaminated with rotavirus and then touching the mouth area can result in infection.

There also have been cases of low levels of rotavirus in respiratory-tract secretions and other body fluids. Because the virus is stable (remains infective) in the environment, transmission can occur through ingestion of contaminated water or food and contact with contaminated surfaces. Rotavirus can survive for days on hard and dry surfaces, and it can live for hours on human hands.

How is rotavirus diagnosed?

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The diagnosis of rotavirus may be made by rapid detection of rotavirus in stool specimens. Strains of rotavirus may be further characterized by special testing with enzyme immunoassay or polymerase chain reaction, but such testing is not commonly available or necessary.

How is rotavirus treated?

There is no specific treatment for rotavirus. For people with healthy immune systems, rotavirus infection of the bowel (gastroenteritis) is a self-limited illness, lasting for only a few days. The treatment consists of increased fluid intake (oral rehydration) to prevent dehydration. About one in 40 children with rotavirus infection of the bowel requires hospitalization for intravenous fluid.

What is the prognosis of rotavirus infection?

Rotavirus infection is a self-limited disease that resolves after three to nine days of symptoms. Rarely, severe dehydration accompanying rotavirus infection has led to death. Recognition of the condition and proper supportive treatment (rehydration) can prevent serious complications.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2014

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