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Everything that you wanted to know about rotavirus

Rotavirus causes an acute gastroenteritis condition that is coupled with vomiting and diarrhea. The virus impacts infants as well as young children. Rotavirus has got its name from the fact that the disease-causing virus resembles a wheel whenever put under a microscope. Thanks to the developments in medicine and technology, two vaccines have been successfully created to combat the disease.

Is rotavirus really a big problem? 

Rotavirus infects intestinal tracts of under-fives. Children who are under the age of five can get the infection more than once, but the first time is usually the worst. When talking globally, the virus is responsible for two million hospitalizations as well as 500,000 deaths of under-fives on a yearly basis. The figures are abysmal and depressing. Adults as well as older children can also be infected by the virus, but the condition will be too mild.

How does rotavirus spread, anyway?

The disease, sadly, is highly contagious. The stool of an infected child has germs that are livable for a long duration. The germs can remain for a long duration upon contaminated surfaces, such as hands. A child can catch the disease by touching a contaminated object and putting it in mouth. The spread of the virus is a primary problem in daycare and hospitals as well. The disease can spread from child to child like wildfire.

Daycare workers also help in spreading of the disease. The childcare workers, sometimes, do not wash their hands after changing diapers, i.e. the germs remain in the hands of the workers. And the workers feed other infants from the same unwashed hands. That is, by far, one of the most common causes of the disease.

What are the different symptoms of the disease?

  • The intestinal infection in infants is characterized by watery diarrhea, vomiting, low-grade fever and abdominal pain as well.
  • In most cases, bowel movements can occur close to 20 times per day. Such highly frequent bowel movements last up to nine days. That is a lot of water wastage from an infant’s body, and it is dangerous.
  • The chances of having dehydration through a rotavirus infection are thick. Having 20 bowel movements for nine days can cause severe dehydration in infants. The common signs of dehydration are deep breathing, tiredness, coldness of hands as well as feet, lack of tears and weakness.

The subsequent rotavirus infection in an infant may not have dehydration as a symptom. 

How to diagnose the disease?

The infant has to get admitted to a hospital. Most of the times, doctors and pediatrists test young children for Rotavirus A.  The test involves examination of the diseased child’s stool. Such type of examination, by and large, is carried out with the help of immunoassay. The immunoassay helps measure the presence of a substance (proteins or virus) in the stool.

Rotavirus vaccine in India has arrived to help in combating from this malady. Each child should get a dose of the vaccine. The dosage value depends upon the brand of the vaccine. The vaccination program should be started when the child is two months old. The vaccine is available in liquid form only.  A rotavirus vaccine is as important as a conjugate vaccine, and it should be included within a child’s immunization schedule.

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