Public Health Fact Sheet
What is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus causes an infection of the intestinal tract which leads to severe diarrhea. Rotavirus is highly contagious and is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children. Most children in the U.S. are infected with Rotavirus by the age of two (2) years. Adults can also be infected, but the disease tends to be very mild.
How is Rotavirus spread?
You can get infected with Rotavirus if you get Rotavirus particles in your mouth by putting your unwashed hands that are contaminated with feces into your mouth, touching contaminated objects of surfaces then putting your fingers in your mouth, or eating contaminated food. People who are infected with Rotavirus shed the virus in their stool (poop). People shed Rotavirus the most, and are most contagious, when they have symptoms and during the first three days after they recover. People with Rotavirus can also infect others before they have symptoms.
How is Rotavirus treated?
Typically, treatment consists of preventing dehydration by replacing fluids lost due to diarrhea and/or vomiting. Occasionally, symptoms can be severe and hospitalization may be necessary.
How is Rotavirus prevented?
There is a vaccine (given orally) available for infants to prevent Rotavirus. Hand washing and good hand hygiene are extremely important especially after using the toilet, changing diapers or before preparing, serving or eating food. Proper food storage and preparation.