Rotavirus

Unlike common diarrhoea, Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeas in infants and young children.

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Diarrhoea. Vomiting. Fever. And a baby who can't tell you what's wrong.

Rotavirus, a virus that affects the gut (stomach and intestine)1, is the leading cause of diarrhea hospitalisations among children worldwide2. A study by the KK Women's and Children's hospital shows that nearly 40% of diarrhea-related hospitalisations are caused by rotavirus infections3. Rotavirus infection is nearly universal, with approximately 95% of children experiencing rotavirus gastroenteritis by age of 5 years3,4.

Don't let your baby suffer from Rotavirus.

In Singapore, 1 in 10 cases of rotavirus occur in babies less than 6 months5. Almost every child has been infected with rotavirus by 5 years6, which is the leading cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting in children less than 5 years1,7.

Myths vs Facts

Myth:

Diarrhoea is only a problem in developing countries.

Fact:

Although rotaviruses are estimated to cause as many as one million deaths annually among infants and young children under 5 years of age in developing nations, morbidity rates are similar in developed and developing countries8. Almost every child in the world will suffer from diarrhoea caused by rotavirus gastroenteritis before the age of five, with some cases leading to severe illness9.

Myth:

Diarrhoea will generally clear up in a day or so.

Fact:

Sometimes this can be the case, but children suffering from rotavirus gastroenteritis can have diarrhea which last for up to a week8. Symptoms or diarrhoea can lead to other health conditions such as dehydration and malnutrition10.

Symptoms

Rotavirus and Its Symptoms

Once someone has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear11:

Rotavirus Symptoms

Additional symptoms including the loss of appetite and dehydration (loss of body fluids) can be more serious for infants and young children11. Infants between 3-24 months are more likely to suffer severe infections14. Adults who are infected with rotavirus tend to have milder symptoms11.

Vaccinated children are less likely to get infected with rotavirus11.

Children who are not vaccinated usually have more severe symptoms when they first encounter the disease11. For early protection against rotavirus, rotavirus vaccine can be administered as soon as your baby turns 6 weeks old15.

Rotavirus can lead to dehydration especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses16.

Be wary of the symptoms of dehydration in you and your family members16:

  • Decreased urination
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Crying with few or no tears and
  • Unusual sleepiness or fussiness

Protect against dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids16. If you or your family member is severely dehydrated, talk to your doctor.

How it spreads

Rotavirus spreads easily.

Rotavirus is easily transmitted by the oral-faecal route, both through close person-to-person contact and contact with contaminated environmental surfaces4. Rotavirus can stay alive on contaminated surfaces for days because of its resistant nature17.

Rotavirus spreads easily

Rotavirus can strike the whole family.

A study shows that among 102 adults caring for children with rotavirus infection, 36 adults were infected19. When a child is infected with rotavirus, other members in the family may be affected as well. Adults, especially caregivers who are in contact with children are at particularly high risk of infection19.

Evidence suggests that even casual contact may spread the disease from children to adults19. Exposure to children infected with rotavirus in a playgroup has resulted in adults being infected. Such infections have also been reported among hospital staff in paediatric wards19.

Don't let you and your child become victims of rotavirus. Prevent the suffering early.

Impact on health

Impact on health

There are no antiviral therapies available, except supportive treatment primarily aimed at replacing lost fluid from dehydration where hospitalization is often necessary4.

Get protected

What can you do to protect against rotavirus?

Your doctor may recommend medicine to treat the symptoms but there is no specific medicine to treat rotavirus infection16.

What can you do to protect against rotavirus

References

  • Parashar UD, Burton A, Lanata C, et al. Global mortality associated with rotavirus disease among children in 2004. J Infect Dis 2009; 200 Suppl 1: S9-S15
  • Parashar UD et al. Rotavirus and severe childhood diarrhea; Emerg Infect Dis; 2006, February; Volume 12; 2; 304-306
  • Phua et al. Hospital Based Surveillance of RVGE in Singapore WPCCID 2010
  • Bernstein D et al. Rotavirus Overview; The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal; Pediatr Infect Dis J; 2009, March, Volume 28; 3; 550-53
  • Kong Boo Phua et al. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;32:e426-431
  • Parashar UD, Hummelman EG, Bresee JS et al. Global illness and deaths caused by rotavirus disease in children. Emerg Infect Dis 2003; 9: 565-72
  • World Health Organization. Weekly epidemiological record. 2013; 88: 49-64
  • Linhares AC, Bresee JS. Rotavirus vaccines and vaccination in Latin America. The Pan American Journal of Public Health. 2000;8(5):305-30
  • Dennehy PH. Rotavirus vaccines: an overview. Clinical Microbiology Review. 2008;21(1):198-208
  • WHO. The Treatment of Diarrhoea [online] 2005. Available from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2005/9241593180.pdf
  • CDC. Rotavirus: Symptoms; Available from https://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/about/symptoms.html; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 1997. Oral Vaccine Protects Infants from Severe Rotavirus Diarrhea First Success in a Developing Country. ScienceDaily; Available from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/10/971023084407.htm; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; Tools for healthier lives: Rotavirus; Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rotavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20351300; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • Penelope HD, et al. Rotavirus vaccines: An overview; Clin Microbiol Rev; 2009, January Volume 21; 1; 198-208
  • Cortese M et al. Prevention of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis Among Infants and Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP); Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2009, February, Volume 58, 2; 1-25
  • CDC. Rotavirus: Treatment; Available from https://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/about/treatment.html; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • KK Women's and Children's Hospital; Study shows rotavirus causes nearly 40% of acute gastroenterology hospitalisations among young children in Singapore. Available from https://www.kkh.com.sg/AboutUs/PressRelease/Pages/29-09-2011.aspx; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • Mrukowicz J, Szajewska H, Vesikari T. Options for the prevention of rotavirus disease other than vaccination. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2008; 46 Suppl 2: S32-7
  • Anderson EJ, Weber SG. Rotavirus infection in adults. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2004, February, Volume 4; 95-96
  • Kong Boo Phua et al. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2013;32: e426-e431
  • Domingo et al. The impact of childhood acute rotavirus gastroenteritis on the parents' quality of life: prospective observational study in European primary care medical practices. BMC Pediatrics; 2012, May, Volume 58; 2
  • CDC. Rotavirus: Transmission; Available from https://www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/about/transmission.html; Last accessed Jun 2018
  • WHO Position Paper on Rotavirus Vaccines No. 5, 2013;88;49-64
  • Cortese M et al; Prevention of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis Among Infants and Children Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP); Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; 2009, February, Volume 58, 2;1-25
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