What is Rotavirus Gastroenteritis – Causes and Symptoms

Rotavirus gastroenteritis is a viral infection which causes diarrhea in children below the age of five years. It causes nearly 20-60 deaths per year among the targeted age group in the United States. Approximately 410,000 physician visits and 55,000–70,000 hospitalization cases are caused by this disease in this country. This article tries to understand the causes and symptoms of this infection.

Causes of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis:

The disease is caused by rotavirus. It is transmitted by the fecal particles of an infected person which contains more than 10 trillion infectious particles per gram. Only 10–100 particles are required to transmit the disease from one person to another. Rotavirus A is mostly responsible for causing 90 percent of the gastroenteritis in children below the age of five years. Rotavirus B is known to affect adults primarily. A survey conducted revealed that there is immunity of this virus in this country. There are very rare and sporadic cases of diarrhoea in children caused by Rotavirus C in the world.

Symptoms of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis:

  • Diarrhoe
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Malaise
  • Irritable behaviour
  • Fast heart beat
  • Fast breathing
  • Fewer wet nappies
  • No tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Soft spots on the top of baby’s head
  • Being less alert and active than usual
  • After the virus affects a child, it remains inactive inside the body for 2 days. This period is called the incubation period after which the symptoms become apparent. Vomiting is the first sign followed by four to eight days of profuse diarrhoea. However, it is dehydration which is responsible for causing most number of rotavirus infection related deaths. Children between six months to two years of age, elderly people and persons suffering from weak immune system should be cautious as the symptoms are more more pronounced in them.

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