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Rotavirus Infection


Rotavirus is a virus that causes inflammation of the small intestine. The infection can prevent your body from absorbing water and nutrients from food. Rotavirus can infect people of all ages but is most common in children younger than 5 years. Rotavirus can spread through coughing, food or water, or contact with the bowel movement of an infected person. Rotavirus can remain on objects, such as clothes or toys, for many days. The infection can spread when someone touches an infected object.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child's body seems floppy and weak, or he does not respond to you at all.
  • You have trouble breathing or your heartbeat is faster than usual.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • The soft spot on your baby's head is sunken.
  • Your child cannot, or will not, drink at all.
  • Your child has a dry, sticky mouth, cries without tears, or has sunken-looking eyes.
  • You are confused or sleepier than usual.
  • You see things that are not there.
  • You cannot stop vomiting.
  • Your hands and feet suddenly become cold.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is drinking less liquid than usual.
  • Your child urinates less than usual or your baby has fewer than 6 wet diapers in one day.
  • You have a fever that is not going away or is getting worse.
  • You have blood in your bowel movements.
  • You have stomach pain, and more frequent diarrhea.
  • Your body is puffy and swollen, and your face is red.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Drink liquids as directed:

You may need to drink extra liquids or give extra liquids to your child to prevent dehydration. Good liquids to drink include water or fruit juice. You or your child may need oral rehydrating solution (ORS). This is a drink that contains the right amount of salt, sugar, and minerals in water. Ask how much liquid you or your child should drink each day. If you breastfeed, continue to breastfeed your baby.

Monitor your child during a rotavirus infection:

Make sure you know how much, and how often, your child urinates. This includes how often your baby has a wet diaper. Babies should have at least 6 wet diapers each day. Check your child's urine to see if it is dark yellow or brown.

Prevent the spread of a rotavirus infection:

  • Wash your and your child's hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
  • Rotavirus vaccine helps prevent rotavirus infection. The vaccine is usually given at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. The vaccine may be given as early as 6 weeks of age. The final dose should not be given after age 8 months.
  • Clean items that may be infected. Use chlorine-based disinfectants to clean surfaces, toilets, toys, and shared items in your home.
  • Stay home while you are sick. Stay away from others for as long as your healthcare provider says you should. Do not return to work, school, or daycare until he says it is safe so you do not spread the virus to others.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.