Rotavirus transmission usually occurs through contact with contaminated stool. Other methods through which rotavirus transmission can occur include eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or by touching a contaminated surface and then putting your hands in your mouth.
Rotavirus transmission occurs through contact with contaminated stool that then gets ingested (this is called the fecal-oral route). Because rotavirus 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.
Large amounts of rotavirus are shed in the stool of infected people, and rotavirus is easily spread on contaminated hands and objects. Children 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 close contacts.
Other animals can also develop rotavirus infections, although it does not appear that rotavirus strains in animals can cause infections in humans.
Rotavirus infection occurs worldwide. The highest rates of illness occur among infants and young children. By age 3, virtually every individual has been infected by rotaviruses at least once.
In the United States and other countries with a temperate climate, the disease has a winter seasonal pattern, with annual epidemics occurring from November to April. Rotavirus infections tend to start in the West and spread east, starting in California and ending in New England. In tropical areas, rotavirus infections occur year-round, increasing slightly during the cooler, rainy season.