Vaccine preventable disease: Rotavirus

What it is: Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea (sometimes severe) mostly in babies and young children. Often it is accompanied by vomiting and fever. Before vaccines were administered to children, almost every child in the U.S. was infected before the age of 5. If not properly managed, a rotavirus infection can lead to infant mortality.

How it spreads: The virus travels via a fecal-oral route, often due to lack of hand washing and disinfection of nearby objects. It can be spread through respiratory discharge, along with contaminated hands, surfaces and objects.
What it causes: Rotavirus infection is associated with the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dehydration

After their first exposure, children gradually build immunity to the virus.

What to do: No specific treatment plan means the rotavirus should be dealt with through its symptoms. Specifically, infected individuals should keep their fluid levels up to avoid dehydration.
Preventing the rotavirus comes with timely vaccination. Receiving the rotavirus vaccine is highly effective in protecting you and your children from infection. The vaccines available are given orally in either a two- or three-dose series.