Symptoms of rotavirus

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Symptoms of rotavirus

Typical symptoms include some or all of the following:

  • fever
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea (which lasts from 3 to 8 days)

Most children experience rotavirus for the first time at an early age.

Children who are less than 4 months old usually suffer from mild symptoms. This is because mothers pass on some of their protection from the disease to their unborn babies during pregnancy. 

Children from 4 months to 5 years in age can suffer from:

  • mild diarrhea
  • severe dehydration (loss of fluid)
  • if left untreated, dehydration can lead to life-threatening conditions

Symptoms are most severe in children between 4 and 24 months old. They appear 1 to 3 days after being exposed to the virus.

In some situations, the loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • dizziness
  • little or no urination
  • crying without tears
  • dryness in the throat and mouth
  • unusual sleepiness or unresponsiveness

Usually the first time a person gets sick with rotavirus they experience the most severe symptoms. Although the illness does not always lead to life-long immunity (protection against infection), adults who get rotavirus tend to have milder symptoms.

What to do if you become ill

If you or your child are suffering from the listed symptoms:

  • contact your health care provider and describe the symptoms
  • make arrangements to see your or your child’s health care provider without exposing others to illness

You or your child should also:

  • stay at home
  • resume a normal diet once vomiting and diarrhea stop
  • avoid contact with other people to help prevent spreading the virus

Severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. To protect against dehydration:

  • drink plenty of fluids 
  • use over-the-counter oral rehydration salts for mild dehydration

Severe dehydration may require hospitalization.

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