Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus. It is a leading cause of severe vomiting and diarrhea in babies and toddlers. Nearly all children become infected with rotavirus by the time they are five.
Worldwide, rotavirus is the leading cause of hospitalization and death from acute gastroenteritis among infants and children. It causes more than 2 million hospitalizations and about half a million deaths every year and is very common in the Asia-Pacific Region.
There are many strains of rotavirus. A child can be infected with different strains from different areas at different times and can also be infected more than once. Common strains like G1, G2, G3, G4, and G9 cause about 95% of infections worldwide.
Rotavirus is very easy to catch. It can survive for a long time on the surface of toys and household goods that babies come in contact with. However, rotavirus is resistant to soap and disinfectants. Although proper hygiene is always a good idea, it can’t protect your child completely from this virus.
Although there is no reliable way to predict which babies will have serious rotavirus infections, they are most common in children between 6 months and 2 years. A rotavirus infection can cause symptoms such as
• Vomiting and diarrhea: your baby could have more than 20 instances of diarrhea or vomiting in a 24-hour period. In severe cases, diarrhea can last up to 9 days.
• Abdominal cramps If your baby has a severe case of rotavirus and becomes very dehydrated, it could lead to decreased blood volume and a drop in blood pressure. This can become life-threatening and may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous fluids.
Vaccination can protect your baby from the consequences of rotavirus infection.
The rotavirus vaccine is oral, so it’s painless and easy for your baby to receive.
The vaccine can be given from two months of age and fits into the routine vaccination schedule so there is no need for extra visits to the doctor to receive it.
There are two rotavirus vaccines approved for use in Thailand. One includes five virus strains while the other includes one. Your doctor can provide more information about rotavirus vaccination. In clinical trials, infants receiving the vaccine were more than 95% less likely to be hospitalized because of rotavirus infection in the 2 years after completing the course of vaccine. With this in mind, it’s best to protect your baby as early as possible. Talk to your doctor about rotavirus prevention at your baby’s first well visit.
M.D, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 2001.