Rota Virus - A Common Baby Illness With Alarming Symptoms

Rota virus affects mostly babies and toddlers, and is a virus causing a kind of stomach flu. Examine what the symptoms are, some practical suggestions for prevention and treatment, and also facts about the vaccine.

This virus, usually spelled Rotavirus, is the leading cause of diarrhea in babies and young children worldwide.  My daughter developed it the week after having my son.  It was short lived - but what a mess! 

rota virus baby

Photo courtesy of o5com

This illness, although often referred to as a "stomach flu" is different from "influenza". Influenza has to do with the respiratory tract. It is not at all related.

It's good to know that because this is a virus not a bacteria, antibiotics are ineffective. It resolves on its own after 3 to 9 days. With each infection immunity develops, which is why adults are rarely affected.

What are the symptoms?

Rotavirus causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It causes watery diarrhea, with fever, vomiting and abdominal pain.

What can I do?

The virus is spread by contamination with feces - going from hand to mouth. It can be spread to objects and surfaces which is picked up and passed on.

"Washing with soaps or cleansers does not kill the virus, but careful hand washing will help prevent spread of rotavirus," states the CDC (Centre for Disease Control).

Treating Rotavirus

Replacing fluids is the most important thing you can do so as to avoid the dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. When things get out of control and children are brought to the hospital, intravenous fluid therapy is used to replace the lost fluids.

The World Health Organization states that the following accessible items can be used at home:

  • salted rice water
  • salted yogurt drink
  • salted vegetable or chicken soup
  • a home made solution of: 1 liter clean water with 3 grams salt and 18 grams sugar

Rotavirus Vaccination

The vaccine contains 5 "live" viruses and is available and recommended in an increasing number of countries.  Keep in mind that live viruses are made with a weakened strain of the actual illness.  Also, the live virus that the vaccine is made with can be shed in a persons body fluids and as a result be passed on to another person.  This vaccine is on the recommended vaccination schedule to be administered orally at 2, 4 and 6 months of age or 2 and 4 months depending on the brand you use.

Although this "stomach flu" is very common, it can be the cause of a lot of discomfort and anxiety - on the part of baby and parents.

Having the facts about Rotavirus (rota virus)- the symptoms, the treatment, and the vaccine educates. It gives us the awareness parents need to nip-it-in-the-bud and get help.

Return from Rota Virus to MMR Vaccine

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