What is Rotavirus

The name rotavirus is derived from the Latin rota, that stands for ”wheel”. The virus has a wheel-like appearance and that is why the word rota has become synonymous with the virus. This virus infects the bowels.  Children are prone to the harmful effect of the virus as they usually touch any dirty area, where these viruses generally thrive. This virus may also be spread accidentally to the person who takes care of small children, especially mothers. The virus spread through some  everyday activity such as inappropriate hand washing after changing or wiping the diapers or dirty clothes. Rotavirus is highly infectious and around 55,000 children in  America are infected, and around 700,000 children die every year because of rotavirus infection. According to reports, children above the age of five are most certain to get affected by this virus.

The symptoms of rotavirus disease are severe stomach ache, food poisoning, and vomiting which lasts around 3–8 days. Coughing and fever are other symptoms of Rotavirus. The time period from initial infection to symptoms vary from 3-7 days. Generally this virus is witnessed during seasonal changes, especially during we winter comes and winter leaves. This is a very crucial period as rotavirus infection is at its peak during such seasonal change.  Children Hospitals are one of the regions where rotavirus population is generally high and there are huge chances of getting infections through these locations. Rotavirus infections is associated with severe dehydration in infants and children. Parents should watch out for sunken eyes, extreme thirst, lethargy, dry or cool skin, sticky mouth. A severe infection can lead to hospitalization and in such cases the child will receive intravenous fluids (IV). Blood test is also taken and analyzed in order to rule out any possibility of bacterial infection.
In case of a mild infection the infection can be handled at home through extra fluids. To avoid worsening of the diarrhea, one should avoid giving fruit and soda to the children. Doctors often prescribe Pedialyte, which is a syrup used to hydrate the body but must be given according to the administered amount. Vomiting and Food poisoning can be treated by giving small and regular meals. Parents should keep in mind that in order to prevent the virus from propagating, they should properly wash their hands and also the child’s.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new rotavirus vaccine called RotaTeq, a live oral vaccine for use in children. The RotaTeq vaccination process is advised by ACIP or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices . Three doses of the RotaTeq vaccine are recommended for babies up to 7 months of age. Studies have displayed that the new RotaTeq vaccine prevents 74% of all rotavirus cases,  98% of severe rotavirus cases and 96% of hospitalizations due to rotavirus. The previous form of rotavirus vaccine which was removed from the market in 1999 because of a potential complication known as intussusceptions  which is a severe bowel obstruction in new born babies. The new vaccine doesn’t have any complications.

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