Rotavirus is an infectious stomach virus that causes diarrhea, fever, tummy ache, and vomiting in infants and young children. While most infected patients can recover after a few days at home, about one out of five children will have to visit their doctors and one out of ten patients will have to suffer from severe dehydration.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all American children had been infected by the rotavirus bug before they reach their fifth birthday. In fact, before the vaccine was created, about 20 to 60 children have died due to rotavirus infection. The disease was once considered as a common health issue in the United States.
What are the Symptoms of Rotavirus Infection
Most people often mistake rotavirus infection symptoms to food poisoning. However, it is impertinent that parents identify the signs immediately as it can be fatal to the victim.
Children who are infected will have severe watery stool, abdominal pain, vomiting, and slight fever that may last up to a week. Additional signs include no appetite and loss of fluids in the body or dehydration. A patient is dehydrated if there is a decrease in urination, dry mouth or throat, and dizziness.
While it is common in infants and young children, adults may also get rotavirus infection. Their symptoms may be milder than babies but it can also get worse.
How to Treat Rotavirus Infection
There is no cure or treatment for a rotavirus infection. Taking antibiotics will be of no use as the rotavirus infection is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. What parents or patients could do is treat the prominent symptoms such as dehydration.
The best way to prevent dehydration from being fatal is to consume plenty of fluids. There are also available oral rehydration solutions which may replenish nutrient and water loss. If the patient needs hospitalization, intravenous fluids or IV may be given directly through the veins.
The Introduction of the Rotavirus Vaccine
To avoid getting the rotavirus infection, doctors and experts recommend getting a vaccination. It may effectively protect babies and young kids from the fatal disease.
Currently, there are two rotavirus vaccines available in the United States. The two vaccines differ in terms of administration schedule and composition:
- Rotarix (RV1) – this vaccine is given in two doses, once at two months and another at four months
- RotaTeq (RV5) – this vaccine is given in three doses, once at two months, four months, and lastly at six months
Side Effects of the Rotavirus Vaccine
Parents should know that not all babies are allowed to get the rotavirus vaccine. Infants diagnosed with the following are prohibited to receive this vaccine:
- severe allergy to the vaccine or latex
- SCID or severe combined immunodeficiency
- intussusception or a condition where the child has bowel blockage
It is also important that babies are checked for adverse reactions such as irritability, mild diarrhea, and vomiting. Patients may also experience a higher risk of developing intussusception and allergy.
While it may be scary to think that babies or younger children may get side effects, getting rotavirus vaccination should still be the top priority to avoid any serious illness in the future. Gastroenteritis and infant mortality are just two of the serious consequences if a child gets infected. Furthermore, getting vaccinated can save parents from incurring thousands of dollars in doctor visits, emergency room, and hospitalizations.