Rotavirus is a viral infection. It occurs in the digestive tract. In the US, it is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children.

Digestive Tract

Digestive tract
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The virus is passed easily from person to person. It starts with contact with infected stool. The virus is then passed by:

  • Hand-to-mouth contact
  • Touching any object or surface that has come into contact with the infected stool

Risk Factors

The following are at an increased risk for contracting rotavirus:

  • Children between the ages of 4-24 months
  • Children who attend daycare or any public childcare setting
  • Older adults who care for young children


Symptoms of rotavirus may vary from person to person. There may be no symptoms. They may also range from to mild to severe. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea that lasts from 3-9 days
  • Abdominal pain


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Stool sample analysis


Rotavirus does not respond to antibiotics. There is no treatment for rotavirus itself. The virus may cause dehydration , which may require treatments such as:

  • Rehydration fluids—includes children's drinks (eg, Pedialyte) to restore minerals lost due to the diarrhea
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids—If dehydration is severe, IV fluids may be given at the hospital


Good hygiene is the best way to help reduce the spread of rotavirus. It is not 100% effective and does not kill the virus. To help reduce your chances of getting rotavirus, take the following steps:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Always wash hands:
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing a baby's diaper or helping a child use the toilet
    • Before handling or preparing food.
  • Get a rotavirus vaccination for babies and young children.