Rotavirus - Describe Your Experience

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What is rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a virus that infects the bowels, causing a severe gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and 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 6-24 months of age are at greatest risk for developing severe disease from rotavirus infection. Adults sometimes become infected, but the resulting illness is usually mild.

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.

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Comment from: Holly, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 15

I caught rotavirus from the kids I work with. Day one was extreme fatigue, followed that evening by muscle aches and fever. No head symptoms (sore throat, congestion) whatsoever, which made me realize this wasn't the usual flu. Nausea started that evening and continued for several days. By that evening and the following day I couldn't even try to prepare food without almost vomiting from the sight of it. For the next few days I couldn't get out of bed, or eat. I couldn't move without horrendous stomach pain and have never felt so tired and weak. Watery diarrhea didn't set in until the last few days. I lost about 5 pounds from the experience.

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Comment from: Diane, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I saw my general physician today and he thinks I had/have rotavirus. It began 2 weeks ago. I was out to dinner (before eating) and began to feel extremely fatigued. I rushed dinner to get home to go to rest. I ran a low grade fever, but in the morning felt better and proceeded to work. I lasted about 7, not 8 hours, came home and went to bed. The next day, I felt worse, ran a fever of almost 103, stayed home and eventually went to the minor emergency room (ER) where they tested me for a UTI (urinary tract infection), which was negative. They thought it was probably a virus. I suffered at home another 4 days, unable to go to work, with a roller coaster fever between 101 and normal on alternate days. The muscle aches were terrible, and I had frequent watery diarrhea. I vomited only 1 day, and maintained my appetite for the most part, the rest of the time. I was losing the hydration battle, so I admitted myself to the ER. They noted extreme dehydration, low potassium and some loss of kidney function resulting from the dehydration. But they also noted an elevated heart enzyme (troponin) which is secreted when you have a myocardial infarction, or when your body is under stress. From then on, I was classified as a cardiac patient consuming a cardiac diet. A chest x-ray, EKG, CT scan, ultra-sound, (after which they were going to surgically remove my gall bladder, but did not!) blood cultures, a telemetry pack, 3 stool samples and urinalysis, as well as an echocardiogram and nuclear stress test were all negative, but not before they nearly scared me to death from all the speculation! I was treated with potassium chloride IVS, as well as infusions of antibiotics, though I never had an elevated white count. What a nightmare! I was discharged after 4 awful days in the hospital, with the insight that I had a gastroenterological virus! I still had watery diarrhea and a low-grade fever upon discharge. I came home, invoked the BRAT diet, took potassium supplements, and did not work for another 2 days, and then resumed 1/2 day before working one full day. The next day (today) I had the follow-up with my doctor, who had a lot to say about my general overall great health, but felt I had contracted the rotavirus at the school where I counsel military students. He said I was doing well, but probably would not be 100 percent for another week or two. Can you believe it! I am 70 years old, have beat cancer, walk 7 miles a day, take only medicines for high blood pressure, and have been sick 2 times in the last 15 years. This bug almost did me in! I do not wish it on my worst enemy.

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