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Rotavirus in Infants

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea in babies, both in the United States and worldwide. Other than diarrhea, infants with rotavirus may have symptoms like vomiting, high fever, and loss of appetite. Because there is no medication that can kill rotavirus, treatment consists of managing the symptoms while the body fights the infection.

Infants and Rotavirus: An Introduction

Rotavirus is a virus that can cause severe diarrhea. It is the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children in the United States and worldwide.
Rotavirus results in the hospitalization of approximately 55,000 to 70,000 children each year in the United States and in the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide. Almost all children in the United States are likely to be infected with rotavirus before their fifth birthday.

Transmission of Rotavirus in Infants

Large amounts of rotavirus are shed in the stools of infected people. This contaminated stool can easily spread to hands and objects. Rotavirus transmission can then 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.
Infants can spread rotavirus both before and after they become sick with diarrhea. They can sometimes pass the virus to other members of the family and to those they come into close contact with.

Incubation Period

Once the rotavirus has entered the body, it travels to the small intestine, where it begins to multiply. Approximately two days later, symptoms of rotavirus in infants can begin. This period between infection with the rotavirus and the beginning of symptoms is known as the "rotavirus incubation period."
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