Gastroenteritis (cont.)

How is viral gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Generally, viral gastroenteritis is diagnosed by a physician on the basis of the symptoms and medical examination of the patient. Rotavirus infection can be diagnosed by laboratory testing of a stool specimen. Tests to detect other viruses that cause gastroenteritis are not in routine use, but the viral gastroenteritis unit at CDC can assist with special analysis based on public health need.

How is viral gastroenteritis treated?

The most important of treating viral gastroenteritis in children and adults is to prevent severe loss of fluids (dehydration). This treatment should begin at home. Your physician may give you specific instructions about what kinds of fluid to give. CDC recommends that families with infants and young children keep a supply of oral rehydration solution (ORS) at home at all times and use the solution when diarrhea first occurs in the child. ORS is available at pharmacies without a prescription. Follow the written directions on the ORS package, and use clean or boiled water. Medications, including antibiotics (which have no effect on viruses) and other treatments, should be avoided unless specifically recommended by a physician.

Can viral gastroenteritis be prevented?

Persons can reduce their chance of getting infected by frequent handwashing, prompt disinfection of contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners, and prompt washing of soiled articles of clothing. If food or water is thought to be contaminated, it should be avoided. Rotavirus gastroenteritis can also be prevented by vaccines.

Is there a vaccine for viral gastroenteritis?

Currently there are two licensed rotavirus vaccines available that protect against severe diarrhea from rotavirus infection in infants and young children. These vaccines are given to children in their first year of life with other childhood vaccines.

SOURCE: CDC.gov. Viral Gastroenteritis.


Last Editorial Review: 1/3/2011 1:14:01 PM