One of the most common causes of severe diarrhea among infants and children is a virus that most mothers have never even heard of…the Rotavirus. Until my first son got it, and was hospitalized because of it, I had never heard of it. After that experience I made sure that my second son received the vaccine at his two month well-check.
What is the Rotavirus? It is a virus that not only most children get by the time they are 3 years old, but most people get it every year. However, the symptoms range for each person. For a child, generally the most severe is the first time it is contracted. For adults it is likely to just cause a little diarrhea or stomach ache, which most would hardly notice. It is estimated that 70,000 children are hospitalized, and another 150,000 are brought into emergency rooms each year. Approximately 100 children die each year from Rotavirus complications.
Rotavirus has an incubation period of about two days and the symptoms of Rotavirus include diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some experience severe abdominal pain as well. Rotavirus also as a distinct odor to it — many say that once you have smelled it, you will never forget it. Rotavirus can last anywhere from three to nine days. Once you have it you can become immune to it, however like the common cold there are many different strains in the world that you can be infected by.
Rotavirus in its’ worst form can also be the cause of severe dehydration in infants and children. Signs of dehydration include dry, cool skin, sunken eyes, dry mouths, absence of tears when crying, and lethargy. It is important to watch your baby for these symptoms and try to keep him hydrated so that you can avoid hospitalization.
There is very little treatment for Rotavirus once it has been contracted; however they now have a new vaccine available for an infant that is taken orally. It is very contagious and is often transmitted from fecal to mouth when children do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. If you have older children and an infant in your home, it is very important to teach your older children how to properly wash their hands in order to help avoid your infant from catching the virus.
If your baby is sick and you think he might have the Rotavirus, call your pediatrician and have him seen. Your pediatrician might have suggestions to help keep your baby hydrated or more comfortable.
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