Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children less than 5 years of age. By age 3, most children have been infected by at least one strain of this virus.
Rotavirus infection outbreaks occur most often during winter and spring months. The common mode of transmission is through the fecal-oral route. The virus is transmitted from hands or inanimate objects to the mouth after contact with infected feces.
Once a child has been exposed to the virus it takes about two days for symptoms to appear. Rotavirus symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
Typically, children will experience 24-48 hours of vomiting followed by three to nine days of diarrhea. This virus is extremely contagious with an incubation period of two to four days.
There is no specific treatment for rotavirus gastroenteritis. Because severe diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, Boys Town Pediatrics stresses the importance of maintaining proper hydration.
Parents are encouraged to watch for signs of dehydration, which may include decreased urination (less than three times per 24 hours), lack of tears, and/or dry lips and mouth. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention.
The best way to prevent rotavirus is to get vaccinated. This vaccine is given orally to infants at the two- and four-month or the two-, four-, and six-month well-check visits, depending on which vaccine is used. This vaccine can significantly reduce the severity of the rotaviral infection. Make sure to discuss this vaccine with your pediatrician.
Boys Town Pediatrics offers access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week through extended evening and Saturday hours, Same Day Pediatrics clinics, and a 24-hour nurse helpline to answer your questions when your child is ill—any time of day or night. Call 402-498-1234 to schedule an appointment at any one of our convenient locations.