Large amounts of rotavirus are shed in the stools of infected people. This contaminated stool can easily spread to hands and objects. Because rotavirus is stable in the environment -- meaning that it can live for a long time outside of a host -- rotavirus transmission can occur quite easily through the following methods:
- Ingestion of contaminated food or water
- Direct contact with contaminated surfaces and then putting the hands in the mouth.
Adults are commonly infected by their children.
Once the rotavirus has entered the body, it travels to the small intestine, where it begins to multiply. Approximately two days later, rotavirus symptoms can appear. This period between infection with the rotavirus and the beginning of symptoms is known as the "rotavirus incubation period."
Most adults who are infected with rotavirus will not develop symptoms of the virus. If rotavirus symptoms do occur, the illness can begin suddenly. Common symptoms of rotavirus in adults include:
- Upset stomach
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Mucus in stool.
In order to make a rotavirus diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions about a patient's medical history and will likely perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of rotavirus. If the doctor suspects rotavirus, he or she may test the stool for it.