Rotavirus

Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting in young children. It can lead to severe dehydration, which if not treated can be deadly.

Each year, rotavirus causes and estimated 453,000 deaths among infants around the world each year. Prior to the rotavirus vaccine, almost every child had been infected with rotavirus by age 5. Before the rotavirus recommendation in the United States in 2006, the disease sent 200,000 children to the emergency room; caused 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations; and caused 20 to 60 deaths.

Symptoms

After a child has been infected with rotavirus, it takes about two days for symptoms to appear. Symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration (loss of body fluids)
  • Vomiting
  • Severe watery diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

In adults who are otherwise healthy, a rotavirus infection may cause only mild signs and symptoms — or none at all.

Prevention

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rotavirus infection in infants.

For the best protection against rotavirus, your children need to receive all recommended doses (2 or 3 doses depending on vaccine brand) of the rotavirus vaccine. Doses are given to children at 2 months, 4 months, and, if needed due to vaccine brand, 6 months of age. To see if your children are up-to-date on their vaccines, look at the CDC’s immunization schedule and talk to your healthcare provider.