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Rotavirus in Infants

What Are the Symptoms?

Not all infants who are infected with the virus will develop rotavirus symptoms. If symptoms do occur, the illness begins suddenly. Common symptoms of this virus in infants include:
 
  • Vomiting
  • High fever (greater than 102.2°F)
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe dehydration
  • Mucus in stool.
     

When to Call the Doctor

You should call your healthcare provider if your infant:
 
  • Has watery diarrhea
  • Has a temperature at or above 100.4°F.
     
You should also call the doctor if your baby shows signs of dehydration, including:
 
  • No wet diapers for more than five hours
  • Lack of tears when crying
  • Lack of energy
  • Frequent crying or irritability.
     

Diagnosing Rotavirus in Infants

In order to diagnose rotavirus, the doctor will ask a number of questions about your baby's medical history and will perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of rotavirus. If the doctor suspects rotavirus infection, he or she may test the stool for it.
 

Treatment Options

There is no medicine that will kill rotavirus. Therefore, treatment for rotavirus in infants is focused on providing supportive care while the body fights the infection. Giving special fluids by mouth (called oral rehydration therapy) is the most effective rotavirus supportive treatment. Oral rehydration fluids (such as Pedialyte® or Infalyte®) prevent most dehydration. Parents of children with severe diarrhea should start oral rehydration and take their child for medical evaluation. Special fluids used for oral rehydration can be found in most pharmacies or grocery stores, and can be purchased without a prescription.
 
In severe cases requiring a visit to the emergency room or hospitalization, rotavirus treatment may involve replacing body fluids directly through the veins using an intravenous (IV) line.
 
Fortunately, for infants with healthy immune systems, the body is able to effectively kill rotavirus infections, usually after 3 to 9 days.
 
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