Rotavirus is named because of it appears like a rotating spoked wheel when seen under an electron microscope. It is responsible for many cases of viral gastroenteritis, particularly in children. It causes a more severe type of gastroenteritis than other forms. It spreads by touching contaminated surfaces, close contact or faeces from an infected person being transferred to the mouth of another to continue its infective cycle. Faeces can remain a source of infection for up to two months after a patient has recovered. Many animals may also act as a reservoir for infection.
It usually takes around two days for symptoms to appear after exposure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. It is important to promote good hygiene by washing hands frequently and stay at home to avoid spread.
Each infection of the virus builds immunity, making it less likely a person who has had it will contract it again. The virus is also milder in adults than children. Treatment involves rehydration of fluids and bed rest. It is important to for children to drink plenty of fluids as they are more likely to dehydrate with the virus. Severe dehydration will require hospital admission and treatment with intravenous fluids (IV) using a drip.
A vaccination is available for infants.