Rotavirus infection and its management


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Rotavirus infection is a contagious infection which is transmitted through contamination of hands, objects, food or water with infected faeces. The virus is taken in by the mouth. The susceptible places of contacting the infection are day care centres, family homes and homes for the elderly.

It can also spread by mucous membrane, contact with infected airborne droplets generated by coughing and sneezing. It is the leading cause of diarrhoea in infants and children globally.



Watery stool



The diagnosis can be done through laboratory investigation in a faecal sample using a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
Children can spread rotavirus 2 days before and up to 8 days after develop diarrhoea. Rotavirus is not detectable in the faeces after the 8th day of illness.



It is highly advisable to consume adequate water and oral rehydration solution is highly recommended for children with mild to moderate dehydration.
Avoid the intake of carbonated (fizzy) drinks or undiluted juice.
Medications used for prevention of vomiting or diarrhoea should not be administered on children except on strict prescription by a doctor.
Continue to breastfeed babies throughout their illness.
Children on formula or solid diets should resume normal diet (including full strength lactose containing milk) after rehydration with oral rehydration solution.


Seeking medical advice

It is advisable to seek prompt medical assistance if any of the following medical conditions arise:


In adults

Evidence of dehydration such as thirst and decreased urination, lethargy, dry mouth, feeling faint on standing

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Severe abdominal pain
Bloody and watery stool


In children

Evidence of dehydration such as thirst and decreased urination, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, feeling faint on standing
Abdominal pain
Bloody and watery stool



Keep people with rotavirus infection from childcare, pre-school, school and work until there is improvement in the condition.

Infants, children and adults with rotavirus infection should desist from swimming until there has been no diarrhoea for 24 hours.

Get vaccinated to receive good protection against the most common types of rotavirus.

Ensure you wash your hands properly after using the toilet or in contact with anyone with the rotavirus infection.

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