By: Jea Garcia

General Overview of the Disease


Ruth Bishop, Geoffrey Davidson, Ian Holmes, and Brian Ruck indentified abundant particles of a "new" virus (rotavirus) in the cytoplasm of mature epithelial cells lining duodenal villi and feces from children who were admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital in 1973.

What part of the body does it affect?

Intestines and Stomach

How does the disease affect the body?

It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. Rotavirus can be very serious when dehydration occurs. It can be fatal.

Forms or types of the disease:

Group A rotavirus is endemic worldwide. It is the leading cause of severe diarrhea infants and children, and accounts for about half of the cases requiring hospitalization.

Group B rotavirus, also called adult diarrhea rotavirus or ADRV, has caused major epidemics of severe diarrhea affecting thousands of persons of all ages in China.

Group C rotavirus has been associated with rare and sporadic cases of diarrhea in children in many countries, but the first outbreaks were reported from Japan and England.

Causes: How is the disease transmitted?

Rotavirus enters the body through the mouth and infects the lining of the intestines. It spreads easily from children who are already infected to other children and sometimes adults. It is very contagious. Big amounts of rotavirus are shed in the stool of infected persons and it can be easily spread through contaminated hands and objects, like toys. The rotavirus can be spread by children before and after they become sick with diahrrea.


How many people does this disease affect?

In the U.S., rotavirus infections are responsible for about 3 million cases of diarrhea and 55,000 hospitalizations for diarrhea and dehydration in children younger than 5 years old each year.

Does it affect a certain age group?

Rotavirus mainly affects infants and young children. (usually 5 and under)

However, adults can also be affected.

Does it affect a certain ethnic group?

No. Rotavirus can affect any ethnic group.

What is the mortality rate?

In the United States, Rotavirus causes 20-60 deaths per year.

In developing countries, 600,000 children every year under 5 years of age die from Rotavirus.

Signs and Symptoms



Low-grade fever

Watery, bloodless diahrrea


Abdominal cramps


Doctors can perform physical exams by looking for signs and symptoms.

If a doctor suspects Rotavirus, they can do certain tests.

A rotavirus diagnosis may be made by testing the stool for rotavirus using rapid antigen detection tests. Strains of rotavirus may be further characterized by enzyme immunoassay or reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, but this testing is not very common.

Treatment and Cure

Since Rotavirus is a virus, antibiotic drugs will not help because antibiotics fight against bacteria, not viruses.

Rotavirus does cause dehydration so drinking plenty of fluids will help.

Oral rehydration solutions that you can get over the counter in U.S. food and drug stores are most helpful for mild dehydration.

Oral Rehydration Therapy: giving special fluids by mouth that can be found in most pharmacies or grocery stores an can be purchased without a prescription.


Good hygiene and cleanliness is very important to help prevent Rotavirus but it is not enough.

Rotavirus vaccines are very effective. (85% to 95%)

The CDC recommends routine vaccinations for infants.


RotaTeq® (RV5), which is given in 3 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months; or

  • Rotarix® (RV1), which is given in 2 doses at ages 2 months and 4 months.
  • Extras/Fun Facts

    Rotavirus can affect a person more than once, but the first time is usually worse than the second.

    The name rotavirus is derived from the Latin rota, meaning “wheel” because of its characteristic wheel-like appearance.

    Rotaviruses are nonenveloped, double-shelled viruses. The genome is composed of 11 segments of double-stranded RNA, which code for six structural and five nonstructural proteins.

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