to The Centers for Disease Control, Rotavirus is the
most common cause of severe diarrhea among children
worldwide. Approximately 55,000 + children end up
being hospitalized yearly in the United States alone
due to complications from the virus.
from the FDA (www.cfscan.fda.gov)
lists over three million cases of Rotavirus occurring
annually in the United States. Every child is at risk.
exactly is Rotavirus?
name Rotavirus is derived from the Latin Rota or wheel.
When looking at the virus under a microscope, it has
the appearance of tiny wheels.
is a highly contagious virus that affects the bowels.
The incubation period-or the time from acquiring infection
to initial symptoms is approximately two days. Children
display fever, vomiting and watery diarrhea. These
episodes can last for a few days to over a week. It
is possible to be re-infected with the virus although
repeated exposure usually leads to less severe symptoms.
You can not build up complete immunity to the virus
reason this particular virus has the potential to
be very dangerous is the threat of severe dehydration.
It does not take infants and young children long to
become dehydrated. Young infants especially, who’s
only intake is fluids are at an even greater risk
warning signs of dehydration:
Rotavirus is a threat to everyone-not just children.
Adults can suffer from the same illness. It tends
to be less severe in adults due to stronger immune
systems and dehydration not being as much of a
- Less frequent urination or wet diapers.
- Dry mucus membranes (gums)
- Tearless cries
- Sunken soft spots on your baby’s head
is Rotavirus Acquired?
Rotavirus is passed on from the feces of an infected
person. Children generally acquire it by placing their
contaminated hands in their mouths. It’s important
to remember that virtually any surface has the potential
to be a contaminated area. All a child needs to do
is touch that surface and then place their hands in
best way to cut down the chances of your child acquiring
the Rotavirus is practicing good hand washing, especially
after using the restroom. Unfortunately, one of the
favorite past times of most young children is either
placing their hands in their mouths, or placing many
objects in their mouths. It’s almost impossible
to ensure your child’s hands or objects around
them stay clean. Frequent washing does help cut down
is no formal treatment for the Rotavirus. Since it
is a virus, antibiotics have no effect. The only course
of action is to provide plenty of fluids and rest
for your sick child. Drinks fortified with electrolytes
will help cut down on your child’s chances of
becoming dehydrated. As stated earlier, if your young
child/infant has acquired Rotavirus, take extra steps
to try and prevent dehydration.
the past, children were given the Rotavirus vaccine
‘Rotashield’ but in 1999, it was pulled
from the market. It was estimated that 1 out of every
12,000 children immunized with Rotashield developed
intussusceptions or a bowel obstruction.
two latest oral vaccines ‘Rotarix’ by
GlaxoSmithKline and Rotateq by Merck Inc., both currently
recommended for routine inoculation, had zero incidence
of intussusceptions during clinical trials.
the FDA approved their usage, 28 recorded cases of
intussusceptions have been documented and are currently
being investigated to see if there is a link to the
vaccine and the bowel obstruction.
vaccines come with risks. It is our job as parents
to become educated on matters that affect our children’s
health. Certain vaccines are recommended by major
medical organizations for every child to help keep
them healthy. Some children do have difficulties with
them or vaccines go against the parents beliefs. You
need to assess the risks and benefits of vaccines
and illness’s and choose what is best for your
children and your family. Of course, discuss any questions
or concerns you have with your pediatrician.
Rebecca Pillar 2007