is a highly contagious virus. Infants and young children who contract the virus can experience severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration, where severe cases require hospitalization for intravenous fluid therapy. When older children or adults contract this disease, the symptoms are generally much less severe.
Symptoms of Rotavirus infection
Symptoms of rotavirus infection usually present themselves within 2 days after transmission. Severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and/or stomach pain are the most common symptoms. Watery diarrhea and vomiting can last between 3-8 days, with associating symptoms such as a loss of appetite and dehydration. This is particularly dangerous for infants and young children. Parents should seek medical attention urgently if their infant shows the following symptoms:
- Decreased urination
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up
- Crying with few or no tears
- Unusual sleepiness or fussiness
How Rotavirus Spreads
Hand washing is a vitally important preventative measure. The virus is contracted through the oral route, if you contact with contaminated objects or surfaces and eating contaminated food.
People who are infected with rotavirus shed the virus in their stool. The virus generally spread to others while an infected individual is presenting symptoms, and during the first 3 days following their recovery from infection. Although less likely, it is still possible for the virus to shed before symptoms develop.
Rotavirus Infection Treatment
There is no specific medicine available for rotavirus, and treatment is symptom based. If the symptoms are not serious consuming fluids high in electrolytes to replace the minerals lost from dehydration, alongside taking medication aimed at alleviating other symptoms (i.e., fever) should be sufficient.
Preventing Rotavirus Infection
Rotavirus can be prevented with one of the two available rotavirus vaccines. The two available Rotavirus vaccines licensed for use in Thailand and have different vaccination schedules. Speak to your pediatrician to see which one fits best for you and your baby. Newborns should receive one of the following:
- 2 doses administered at 2 and 4 months of age
- 3 doses administered at 2, 4, and 6 months of age
The first dose should be administered before the infant is 15 weeks of age, with the final dose administered no later than 8 months of age. Both vaccines are given by putting drops in the child’s mouth. Clinical studies have found that the rotavirus vaccine is both highly effective and safe. The majority of children (about 9 out of 10) who receive the vaccine would be protected from severe symptoms of the Rotavirus (such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea and behavioral changes), with 7 out of 10 will not experience any symptoms of the disease.
Potential Side Effects of Rotavirus Vaccination
The most common side effects following a rotavirus vaccination, including loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, and low-grade fever. Other less common side effects include indigestion, stomach pain, and skin inflammation. However, most children do not experience any side effects from the vaccine.
Who Should Not Receive the Rotavirus Vaccine
- Infants over the recommended age
- Children who are allergic to substances contained in the vaccine; the 2nd dose of the vaccine should not be administered to children who suffered an allergic reaction to the first dose
- Children with a history of intussusception or other congenital digestive disorders in which they have not yet received treatment, including Meckel’s diverticulum (which is a major cause of intussusception)
- Children with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) syndrome
Other Facts Taken into When Considering Rotavirus Vaccination
- Vaccination should be postponed when a child has acute high fever, diarrhea, or vomiting
- In cases where a child suffers from digestive disorders, vaccinations should be delivered with extreme caution and only under the supervision of an experienced physician
- The vaccine is not suitable for older children, adults, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women
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