What Is Rotavirus?
Infectious Diseases Data Verified

Rotavirus Infection - Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Mar 09, 2023   -  4 min read


Rotaviruses are among the most common causes of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children worldwide. Read the article to know more.


Rotaviruses are among the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children worldwide. In 2004, it was estimated that rotavirus infections caused the death of approximately 475,000-580,000 people, primarily in developing countries. Even though viral strains vary greatly, five serotypes are responsible for most human rotavirus diseases. Rotaviruses, primarily transmitted through the fecal-oral route, affect most children worldwide before the age of three and in most developing countries before the first birthday.

In 2006, two new live, oral, attenuated rotavirus vaccines were approved. Both vaccines demonstrated good safety and efficacy in large clinical trials in Western industrialized countries and Latin America. In addition, careful monitoring has revealed no increased risk of intussusception in the groups vaccinated with either of the vaccines. Therefore the new rotavirus vaccines are routinely used in several developed and developing countries.

What Is Rotavirus?

The rotavirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu. The virus infects the intestines and stomach. It causes vomiting and diarrhea in babies and young children in particular. Infections are common in childcare centers during the winter and spring months. Infants need to be immunized against rotavirus. It can aid in the prevention of rotavirus infections.

What Causes Rotavirus Infection?

Rotavirus germs are found in a person's stool (poop) and can be spread to other surfaces through unwashed hands after using the restroom or changing diapers. Fecal-oral spread occurs when these germs come into contact with someone's mouth.

If the child has rotavirus, it can be found in their poop before symptoms appear and up to 10 days after they have subsided. Rotavirus can spread to the child's hands when they wipe after using the toilet. They risk contaminating anything they touch if they do not wash their hands.

Rotavirus can be transmitted without any symptoms. While the fecal-oral transmission is the most common, rotavirus can also be contracted by contacting the body fluids of someone who has it, such as sneezing on or touching doorknobs or toys touched by a child who has it.

Who Is at Risk of Rotavirus?

Children in daycare or other programs with many children are typically at greater risk. Children aged three months to three years who are not vaccinated are more likely to contract the most severe disease. In addition, some children can not receive the vaccine due to a history of allergic reactions to the vaccine ingredients or other medical reasons determined by a healthcare provider. Rotavirus can also infect adults. However, they are less prone to illness than young children. Adults who are susceptible to rotavirus include:

What Are the Symptoms of Rotavirus?

Rotavirus symptoms are most noticeable in children. Symptoms may appear within two days after being exposed to the rotavirus.

Rotavirus In Children

Severe diarrhea is the most common rotavirus symptom. Children can also encounter:

  • Vomiting.

  • Severe fatigue.

  • High fever.

  • Irritability.

  • Dehydration.

  • Abdominal pain.

In children, dehydration is the most serious concern. As they have lower body weights, this age group is more vulnerable to fluid and electrolyte loss from vomiting and diarrhea. The signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth.

  • Cool skin.

  • Lack of tears when crying.

  • Decreased frequency of urination (or fewer wet diapers in infants).

  • Sunken eyes.

Rotavirus In Adults

Adults may also experience some rotavirus symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting.

  • Severe fatigue.

  • High fever.

  • Irritability.

  • Dehydration.

  • Abdominal pain.

However, many healthy individuals experience symptoms to a lesser extent. In addition, some adults with rotavirus may not show any signs.

How Is Rotavirus Diagnosed?

Doctors can usually diagnose if someone has stomach flu by their symptoms. Typically, no tests are required. However, if a child is extremely ill or has blood or mucus in their poop, a stool (poop) test may be advised to check for rotavirus and other germs that cause diarrhea. To rule out dehydration, the doctor may also order a urine (pee) test or a blood test.

How Is Rotavirus Treated?

There is currently no medication or treatment that can cure the rotavirus. The infection can be managed by a healthy diet and being well-hydrated. Drinking plenty of water, and electrolyte-containing fluids and avoiding foods containing high sugars, juices, and oily foods, as they aggravate diarrhea. Homemade electrolyte solutions are not advised since the combination of ingredients may not be appropriate. If possible, maintain a balanced diet to ensure adequate nutrition throughout the illness.

Can Rotavirus Be Prevented?

Washing hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after using the washroom and before preparing or consuming food, is the most effective way to avoid rotavirus infection. In addition, children who have rotavirus should stay home from childcare until the diarrhea has subsided.

The rotavirus vaccine can aid in the prevention of rotavirus. Approximately 70 percent of vaccinated children do not get infected by rotavirus. Those who are still infected experience much milder symptoms. Around 90 percent of vaccinated children are protected against severe rotavirus. It is a liquid given to babies between 2 and 4 months, then again at six months, depending on the vaccine brand. The Rotavirus vaccine is administered in three doses; at two, four, and six months or two doses at two and four months.

Both vaccines are administered orally, which means they are taken by mouth rather than through an injection. There is no vaccine for older children or adults. This is why doctors recommend getting the rotavirus vaccine for the child as soon as possible.

Babies with severe combined immunodeficiency or intussusception and those already critically ill should not receive the vaccine.


Rotavirus is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestine). It can affect anyone, but it occurs most frequently in children. A health care provider must be contacted if the child has diarrhea and fever, common rotavirus symptoms. The doctor advises drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and fever-reducing medication. If the child is at risk of dehydration, the provider may recommend hospitalization for intravenous fluids. A majority of children recover from rotavirus with no long-term health consequences. Rotavirus vaccines are known to be safe and effective and can protect children and families.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Duration of Rotavirus Infection?

The time frame of rotavirus infection is normally between 3 and 8 days. However, the exact amount of time can differ from person to person.


What Is Rotavirus Treatment?

Although rotavirus infections cannot be treated with a specific medication, the doctor may suggest one to manage the symptoms. The main objectives of the treatment are to control the symptoms and avoid dehydration. This includes ensuring the patient has access to enough fluids through IV fluids or oral rehydration solutions (ORS). Doctors may occasionally prescribe antiemetic drugs to treat vomiting.


Is Rotavirus a Dangerous Condition?

Particularly in newborns and young children, rotavirus can be a serious illness. In newborns and young children, rotavirus frequently causes severe, watery diarrhea and vomiting. Children may experience dehydration, require hospitalization, or possibly pass away. Rotavirus vaccination can safeguard your kid's health. But with the right medical attention, most patients quickly recover from rotavirus infection.


Is There a Home Remedy for Rotavirus?

For rotavirus, there is no specific at-home treatment. In severe circumstances, seeking medical assistance and adhering to recommended remedies is crucial. The primary goals of home care are to ensure adequate rest and water.


What Foods Should Be Consumed if One Has Rotavirus?

One should consume bland foods free of added sugar, such as whole-grain crackers, lean meat, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, many liquids are necessary, including an oral rehydration solution. Avoid foods that can worsen diarrhea, such as drinks, apple juice, dairy products other than yogurt, and sweet snacks.


Who Is Most Susceptible to Rotavirus?

The riskiest age group for rotavirus infection is children. Most severely affected by rotavirus sickness are unvaccinated infants and toddlers between three months and three years old.
The risk of contracting rotavirus is also higher in adults, particularly those who: 
- Are older.
- Care for kids suffering from rotavirus sickness.
- Having weakened immune systems. 


Does Quarantine Apply to Rotavirus?

Most childcare facilities and schools offer instructions on how long to leave the kid at home to stop the rotavirus from spreading to other children. Before returning to school, a kid with rotavirus infection must be symptom-free for at least 24 hours.


How Is the Rotavirus Found?

Stool samples are tested in a lab for the presence of rotavirus infection. The enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test is the most popular method of detection and searches for the existence of rotavirus antigens in the stool.


What Happens if an Infant Has Rotavirus?

Young children and infants are more vulnerable to the rotavirus. In addition to vomiting, fever, and severe watery diarrhea, the virus can cause stomach pain. Children who contract the rotavirus illness may become dehydrated and require hospitalization. To guard against rotavirus sickness, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises newborns to receive rotavirus vaccination.


When Does Rotavirus First Appear?

The virus typically affects kids between the ages of 3 and 35 months. The cooler months of the year, which begin in the fall and last in the spring, are when infections are more prevalent. At this time, children are more at risk. Any youngster exposed to a rotavirus-infected child is in danger.


Can Rotavirus Be Cured?

Most rotavirus infections are resolved without the need for special care. When given supportive care, such as rest and hydration, the body's immune system usually successfully fights off the illness. However, medical intervention can be required in extreme circumstances or people with compromised immune systems.


How Much Time Does the Rotavirus Remain in Stools?

Large amounts of virus are excreted in the stool of infected people, beginning two days before the onset of diarrhea and continuing for a few days after the symptoms appear. For more than 30 days following infection, rotavirus can still be found in the feces of immunocompromised people.


Does Milk Help With Rotavirus?

Milk is typically tolerated well when rotavirus is present. Unless otherwise recommended by a healthcare expert, breastfeeding or formula feeding can continue as usual. Infection from rotavirus is prevented by breast milk. In addition, rotavirus infected breastfed infants exhibit lesser symptoms.


Is Rotavirus Detectable by Blood Tests?

Rotavirus detection does not frequently involve blood tests. The primary technique for detecting rotavirus antigens is through stool samples. 


What Distinguishes Rotavirus From Gastrointestinal Illness?

While rotavirus is a specific virus that can cause gastroenteritis, the term "gastroenteritis" refers to inflammation of the stomach and intestines brought on by different diseases. One of the many possible causes of gastroenteritis is the rotavirus, although other viruses, bacteria, and parasites can also result in the illness.

Last reviewed at:
09 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Article Overview: Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms of stomach flu, but there are many other causes. Read this article to know more. Read Article

Ambalathu Veettil Hussain Shihaz
Ambalathu Veettil Hussain Shihaz
Medical Gastroenterology

Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms of stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis), but there are many other causes. It is not always serious and gets better in a couple of days. Rest and drinking fluids to prevent dehydration are the only treatment that is needed, but it is not always true. ...  Read Article

Tummy Flu, a Common Stomach Problem (Gastroenteritis)

Article Overview: Gastroenteritis is a common condition encountered by almost everyone. However, despite it being common, there is a widespread lack of awareness regarding its common causes, especially its treatment. This article is aimed at giving the general public a better understanding of this condition and its treatment. Read Article

Pir Muhammad Siddique
Pir Muhammad Siddique
General Practitioner

What Is Gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis, commonly called the tummy flu or upset stomach, is the inflammation of the gut. Viruses usually cause it, but they can also be caused by bacteria and rarely by parasites, antibiotics, and other medications. What Are the Organisms That Cause Gastroenteritis? ...  Read Article

Viral Gastroenteritis - Causes, Treatment, Complications and Prevention

Article Overview: Viral gastroenteritis generally causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, anorexia, dehydration, and weight loss. Read the article for more information. Read Article

Jagdish Singh
Jagdish Singh
Medical Gastroenterology

Introduction: Viral gastroenteritis is a contagious intestinal infection caused by a virus, most commonly the norovirus and rotavirus. It is characterized by watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes fever. It is also known as stomach flu, and it can be acquired via contact wi...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Rotavirus Infection or ?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.