Rotavirus: Its Causes and Treatments?

There are approximately 25 million new rotavirus infections per year in both developed and undeveloped countries around the world. About 3 percent of them are fatal. Most often, this happens to children during the first year of life. Therefore, it is important not to underestimate the danger of this disease and provide proper medical care to those infected.

Dr. Alex


Routes of transmission

This disease is highly contagious. The causative agent of rotavirus can live in soil and water for about one month and is resistant to disinfectants and antiseptics. The main route for infection transmission is fecal-oral. You can get the infection through food, water, usual contact, and even airborne droplets.

Rotavirus attacks mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and leads to its inflammation. The toxins created by the virus interfere with the process of water absorption in the gut, which leads to diarrhea, while accumulating these toxins leads to vomiting. At the same time, dehydration can lead to other complications.


The symptoms of rotavirus in adults are similar to those of food poisoning. These include sharp abdominal pain, nausea, weakness, and chills. It is possible to differentiate rotavirus from food poisoning as it causes high body temperature and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, and cough. These symptoms are present in 70 percent of infected individuals.

Meanwhile, it is more difficult to differentiate rotavirus from other intestinal infections (salmonellosis, enterovirus infection, etc.). The diagnosis can be confirmed or excluded only after laboratory tests.


There is no medicine to treat rotavirus, and only the symptoms can be addressed. In this situation, the use of antiviral medicines doesn't bring the desired effect.

The first step is to stop dehydration as soon as possible. It can be done with the help of special saline solutions. If this doesn't help, the doctors may place an IV with electrolyte fluids.

The enterosorbents are used to decrease the number of toxic substances and facilitate their removal from the body.

It is also recommended to reduce body temperature higher than 101.3 °F by taking antipyretics and using antispasmodics to relieve abdominal pain and cramps.

After the symptoms disappear, it is necessary to restore the gut flora with the help of probiotics.


It is essential to control diet. During the acute period of the disease, the diet should exclude milk and dairy products and restrict high-carb foods (pastry, beans, and sweet fruits). During the first two days, it is recommended to drink compotes, decoctions of dried fruits, and sweet tea.

On the second day, you can gradually introduce white crackers, mashed potatoes, skinless poultry, chicken broth, and baked apples to your diet. For the first month after the illness, it is recommended to eat only boiled, stewed or baked foods.


The immunity to rotavirus is practically non-existent. The risk of infection can be reduced by washing hands regularly, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and paying special attention to the quality of water and foods.

The WHO recommends preventive vaccination against rotavirus. in the US rotavirus vaccination is included into "Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger".

23 March 2021

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