The rotavirus is a virus that causes what is known as gastroenteritis; it is currently the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children under five years of age. There are eight groups of rotavirus: A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H . Type A is the most common of all, causing about 90% of infections that occur in both people and animals.
It is a very contagious virus , which is transmitted in the vast majority of cases by the fecal-oral route; infects the cells that line the small intestine, damaging them in depth, and causing gastroenteritis.
The World Health Organization that each year around half a million children die worldwide from rotavirus . Although it is true that adults can also be infected, their prognosis is much worse than that of children.
The most effective form of prevention that exists today is vaccination . This is a mandatory vaccine in the vast majority of developed countries. However, in poor and developing countries, the administration of this vaccine is not common; this fact, added to the deficient hygiene and public health measures, make rotavirus much more frequent in depressed countries.
What is rotavirus?
Rotavirus is an infectious disease that leads to digestive disorders such as gastroenteritis or intestinal infection. Although it can occur in people of all ages, it is much more common in babies and children, especially infants.
There are two defining characteristics of rotavirus. On the one hand, it is a very contagious disease; it is considered a public health problem among children, especially in poor countries. And, on the other hand, it is a highly resistant infection to treatment.
How is rotavirus transmitted?
In the vast majority of cases, rotavirus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route ; however, a person can also be infected by contact with dirty objects or surfaces. Contagion through the respiratory system is also possible, although it is rarer.
The feces of an infected person can contain more than 10 trillion infectious particles for every gram; thus, 100 of these particles is enough for another person to become infected. That is why it is one of the most contagious infections that exist today.
The vast majority of patients are infected with rotavirus by contact with the feces of an infected person orally. And it is that this virus can survive even several hours on the hands, as well as on other surfaces such as diapers, clothing or sheets. The contagion can also be caused by the consumption of both food and water infected by this virus.
There are different types of rotavirus, which occur at different times of the year. Thus, once a person has successfully overcome an infection by this virus, they are immune to said serotype. However, immunity is not complete as there is a risk of contagion and infection from the other serotypes of the virus.
The symptoms of rotavirus are very similar to those of gastroenteritis in children. The most common warning signs are vomiting, watery diarrhea, and elevated body temperature . The incubation period from the moment of infection is two days before the first symptoms appear. Vomiting usually occurs, followed by watery diarrhea that lasts between five and eight days.
Thus, there is a high risk of dehydration due to rotavirus; moreover, it is the most frequent cause of death among children under five years of age from this disease.
In some cases there are also symptoms of the respiratory system , such as difficulty breathing or agitation.
There are significant differences in the presentation of symptoms depending on the age of the little ones. Rotavirus infection in infants less than six months old is usually asymptomatic; meanwhile, the most serious symptoms occur in babies between six months and two years of age.
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis of rotavirus is established through several routes. On the one hand, the presence of symptoms such as watery diarrhea or vomiting can indicate to medical personnel the presence of this disease. And, on the other hand, the infection by this virus in people around.
Of course, diarrhea is a symptom that can occur in many different disorders, especially in the case of the smallest.
To confirm the diagnosis of rotavirus, the indicated medical test is a stool analysis in which the presence of antigens is studied.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment for rotavirus consists of treating fluid loss due to diarrhea as well as vomiting. Oral solutions are used for this . This is very important to avoid possible dehydration.
If it is a mild infection, it is sufficient to increase the consumption of liquids in infants and children . In the case of dehydration due to diarrhea, the most appropriate treatment is rehydration through a vein.
In certain cases it is possible to proceed to hospital admission ; it is usual if the little ones have severe dehydration, vomiting, progressive worsening of diarrhea
Rotavirus in adults
As we have pointed out, this infection is much more common in children than in adults. Of course, this does not mean that adults cannot catch it.
However, its clinical picture is milder ; adults outgrow rotavirus without complications and sometimes with virtually no symptoms. That is why it is easy for them to transmit the virus to family members, and especially young children.
Adults infected with rotavirus do not require any treatment since their immune system is able to recover on its own. Of course, rehydration is essential, for which it is advisable to drink mineral water and infusions with sugar.
Regarding food, it is best to follow a soft diet as a treatment for gastroenteritis in adults. It is not advisable to take any type of solid during the first 12 hours. Once this period of time has elapsed, solid foods can be introduced little by little, in small quantities at the beginning.
As we have noted, rotavirus infection is the most common cause of diarrhea in young children . In underdeveloped and developing countries such an infection is life threatening, especially in infants. It is estimated that in these countries, about 100 million children are infected annually ; of all of them, around half a million die. In developed countries, death from rotavirus is far less common.
Adults can also be infected with rotavirus . In the vast majority of cases, it is children who transmit the virus to their parents . In the case of Spain, rotavirus represents 25% of all cases of gastroenteritis recorded; of all of them, 20% require hospitalization.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.