Rotavirus infection (viral intestinal infection)

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Rotavirus infection (viral intestinal infection) (Disease)


Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhea, and severe infection (rotavirus gastroenteritis) is the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children. Kids with a rotavirus infection have fever, nausea, and vomiting, often followed by abdominal cramps and frequent, watery diarrhea. Kids may also have a cough and runny nose.

Causes and Risk factors

As with all viruses, though, some rotavirus infections cause few or no symptoms, especially in adults. Sometimes the diarrhea that accompanies a rotavirus infection is so severe that it can quickly lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration include: thirst, irritability, restlessness, lethargy, sunken eyes, a dry mouth and tongue, dry skin, fewer trips to the bathroom to urinate, and (in infants) a dry diaper for several hours.

Rotavirus is extremely contagious. Only a very few particles are needed to transmit infection. They are found in the stool in very high concentrations, beginning before the illness. They are also found throughout the environment wherever young children spend much time, especially during the winter months. Eating active culture yogurt or other sources of beneficial bacteria can also minimize rotavirus infections. Of its many benefits, Lactobacillus is most effective at preventing and treating rotavirus and other forms of viral gastroenteritis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If outpatient management fails, intervention with IV fluids generally is necessary to correct dehydration, provide appropriate replacement fluids for ongoing losses due to vomiting and diarrhea, and guarantee administration of daily maintenance fluids. Various formulas to calculate the necessary volume and composition of these fluids as well as their rate of administration are available. Correction of moderate to severe dehydration may require up to 24 hours. Accurate monitoring of intake (oral and IV) and output (vomiting and diarrhea) is imperative. Infants and toddlers should have daily weight measurements obtained.

Antibiotics have no place in the management of rotavirus-induced illness. ...