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Underestimating The Enemy - Rotavirus

In What Ways Can Parents Prevent Children From Contracting The Rotavirus?

Rotavirus spreads primarily via the fecal-oral route and research has shown that the virus can be found all over homes and day-care centres, not just areas directly contaminated by stools. Researchers have found rotavirus on toys, diaper changing areas, handwashing areas and even in food preparation areas.

Unfortunately, there is no effective way to completely eliminate rotavirus infection or its transmission. The virus is able to survive for anytime between a day and several weeks on surfaces. It is viable on hands for at least four hours and can survive for weeks in water. Washing with soaps or cleaners does not kill the virus, although careful hand washing can help prevent its spread.

It only takes 10 rotavirus particles to cause an infection but each gram of stool from an infected child contains 100 billion such virus particles. Since incidences of rotavirus disease are similar in developed and developing countries, improvements in water quality, sanitation and hygiene are unlikely to improve disease control.

There is no specific treatment for rotavirus and management focuses on prevention of dehydration and maintaining nutrition. To date, the best form of protection against rotavirus is through vaccination.

Why Is There A Need For A Vaccine Now?

Immunisation has long been recognized as the most cost-effective public health intervention to reduce the rotavirus disease burden in infants and young children worldwide. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the promotion of rotavirus vaccination programme as a top public health priority.

There is no cure available for rotavirus gastroenteritis. Currently, treatment measures aim only to control symptoms of rotavirus gastroenteritis, such as lowering the fever or re-hydrating the children. A vaccine offers children the best protection from the needless suffering brought about by a rotavirus infection.

How Effective Is The Vaccine? How Often Must It Be Administered?

The current vaccine available has up to 90 per cent efficacy against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. This is an oral vaccine, so there is no need for an injection. The vaccination schedule is as follows:

  • First dose between six and 14 weeks.
  • Second dose between 14 and 24 weeks of age.
  • There should be a minimum interval of four weeks between the two doses.

What Are Some Side Effects?

Some children may experience low-grade fever, a common side effect also seen with other types of vaccines. Parents who are concerned should consult their doctor.

Save Your Child From Rotavirus

You may attribute your 18-month-olds frequent vomiting and diarrhoea to food poisoning, but rotavirus may be the real culprit...

What Is Rotavirus?

A common childhood disease in kids under two years, and leading cause of diarrhoa.

How It Spreads

Symptoms usually develop one to three days after having contact with an infected person, and transmission is usually by the faecal-oral route or via respiratory secretions.


  • It can cause 10 to 20 episodes of watery diarrhoa daily; vomiting and fever for three to seven days, sometimes up to two weeks.
  • If the diarrhoa is severe, dehydration can occur - the child urinates less frequently than usual, has a dry mouth, sunken eyes, decreased activity and increased irritability.


While there is no cure for the disease, most kids recover without medical intervention.  Meanwhile, here are some ways to treat your child and prevent the virus spreading:

Give Him Extra Fluids

Pedialyte and Infalyte, some of which are available as iced lollies, have just the right amount of water, sugar and salt your child needs.

Try The BRAT Diet

Your child will probably not digest everything he consumes as normal, but ensure he gets a balanced diet to aid his recovery. If he refuses to eat, try the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, which he's likely to tolerate better.

Stop Dairy Products

In cases of prolonged diarrhoa, hold dairy products like milk and cheese, and let your child try soy milk or give him boiled rice water instead.

New Vaccine Available

You can vaccinate your child against rotavirus with Rotarix by GIaxoSmithKline

Disinfect All Toys Daily

Especially if they are shared with other children.

Frequent Hand-Washing

Wash your hands with soap and water after changing diapers to prevent transmission. Encourage your child to wash his hands often too.


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