Large amounts of this virus are shed in the stools of infected people. This contaminated stool can easily spread to hands and objects. Because the virus can live for a long time outside of a host, transmission can then occur quite easily through the following methods:
- Ingestion of contaminated food or water
- Direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
Children can spread the virus both before and after they become sick with diarrhea. They can sometimes pass the virus to other members of the family and to other people with whom they have close contact.
(Click Rotavirus Transmission for more information.)
Once the virus has entered the body, it travels to the small intestine, where it begins to multiply. Approximately two days later, symptoms can begin. This period between infection with the rotavirus and the beginning of symptoms is known as the "rotavirus incubation period."
(Click Rotavirus Incubation Period for more information.)
Not all people who are infected with the virus will develop symptoms. If symptoms do occur, the illness begins suddenly. Common symptoms include:
- Upset stomach
- High fever (greater than 102.2°F)
- Watery diarrhea
- Severe dehydration
- Loss of interest in eating
- Mucus in stool.
(Click Rotavirus Symptoms for more information.)