Fortunately, for toddlers with healthy immune systems, the body is able to effectively deal with whatever is causing the diarrhea, and after 1 to 10 days, symptoms in toddlers generally improve.
The viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea in children are highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. The viruses that cause diarrhea in children are often found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Diarrhea transmission can happen in one of several ways, including:
- Eating foods or drinking liquids that are contaminated with a diarrhea virus or bacteria
- Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with the illness, or sharing food or eating utensils with someone who is ill)
- Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with a diarrhea virus or bacteria and putting one's hands in one's mouth.
Toddlers can spread diarrhea both before and after they become sick. They can sometimes pass the virus to other members of the family and to close contacts.
While it is important that you wash your child's hands (as well as your own), better hygiene and sanitation have not significantly reduced incidents of certain types of diarrhea outbreaks, such as rotavirus disease. A new, recently licensed vaccine (RotaTeq®) is the best way to protect your child against rotavirus disease.