Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe diarrhea, mainly in infants and young children. In fact, 95% of all children have had rotavirus illness by 5 years of age. Rotavirus spreads from person to person by the fecal-oral route. People become infected by eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with feces from an infected person. The virus also can be found in water sources, such as private wells, that have been contaminated with feces from infected persons.
Rotavirus can be found in the stool of an infected person about 1 day after exposure until about 10 days after symptoms begin. Symptoms usually begin about two days after exposure and last from three to seven days. Symptoms typically begin with fever and upset stomach followed by diarrhea.
Because large amounts of fluids are lost in diarrhea and fluid intake is often poor, dehydration is a major complication of rotavirus infections. There is no specific treatment for rotavirus infections; instead, treatment focuses on fluid replacement and supportive care. If the person cannot drink enough, intravenous fluids may be needed.
There are currently two rotavirus vaccines available for use in the United States. Both are live attenuated oral vaccines.
Product: Rotarix® (Rotavirus)
Year licensed: 2008
Product: RotaTeq® (Rotavirus)
Manufacturer: Merck & Co.
Year licensed: 2006
* Rotarix® oral applicator contains latex.
* First dose can be given as early as 6 weeks of age and should be
given by 14 weeks and 6 days. Vaccination should not be initiated for
infants 15 weeks and 0 days of age or older because of insufficient data
on safety when first dose is given to older infants. The maximum age
for the last dose of rotavirus vaccine is 8 months and 0 days.