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Deadly Diarrhea


It looks like a bout of diarrhea or a simple case of gastric flu. But, if left untreated, the rotavirus can results in brain damage in children. Almost every child below five will be infected with the virus at least once. Thankfully, a severe reaction is highly preventable.

What Is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus (also known as rotavirus gastroenteritis), is a virus that can cause sever diarrhea, usually with vomiting and fever. The main risk of this condition is dehydration, where the body is depleted of fluids. This can result in death if the condition is severe and remains untreated. The infection can also lead to other complications such as brain damage or kidney failure.

The majority of rotavirus infections occur in the first two years of life, and research has shown that 95 per cent of children under the age of five are infected at some point. The first signs of infection are an upset stomach, vomiting, fever and watery diarrhea, (up to 10-20 bowel movements a day). The symptoms usually last four to eight days.

What Are The Signs To Look Out For?

Parents should watch out for signs of dehydration, such as:

  • Decreased urine output (no wet diaper or urine for four to six hours).
  • Dry, sticky mouth and tongue.
  • No tear when crying.
  • Extreme thirst.
  • Unusual lethargy or irritability.
  • High fever

Symptoms such as fever and vomiting usually accompany the diarrhea caused by rotavirus infection. In rare cases, blood may be present in the stool.

At What Point Should Parents Seek Help?

Parents should seek medical attention when their child has bloody stools, show signs of dehydration (as above), vomiting or diarrhea that seem excessive or persistent. Seek medical attention immediately if the child is younger than six months or unable to keep food and milk them.

Fever, vomiting and diarrhea may be due to other causes such as acute appendicitis, urinary tract infection and other infection - a visit to the doctor can determine the cause of the child's symptoms.

Are There Certain Groups Of Children Who Are More Prone To Rotavirus?

Almost every child worldwide will be infected by rotavirus by the age of five. Children below the age of two years are the most susceptible to the virus. The first infection with rotavirus is also usually the most severe and subsequent infections have progressively milder symptoms.

 

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