• Clinical science

Rotavirus infection (Rotavirus gastroenteritis)

Summary

Rotaviruses are a common cause of viral gastroenteritis in infants and young children and are transmitted via the fecal-oral route. After a short incubation period of one to three days, patients present with vomiting, watery diarrhea, high-grade fever, and malaise. Diagnosis is established through antigen detection in stool. Treatment is supportive and mainly involves replacing fluids, although infection may be prevented altogether by vaccination.

Epidemiology

  • Infants and young children are most often affected, although all age groups are susceptible to infection.
    • Primary cause of acute diarrhea in preschool children during winter
  • A leading cause of severe diarrhea (> 10 loose, watery stools within 24 hours) in infants and children
  • Rotavirus infections are a major cause of death among children in developing countries.

References:[1][2][3]

Epidemiological data refers to the US, unless otherwise specified.

Etiology

  • Pathogen: Rotavirus is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA reovirus.
  • Transmission: fecal-oral route (e.g., by contact with hands, objects, food, water contaminated with the virus)

References:[4][5]

Clinical features

  • Incubation period: 1–3 days
  • Fever, malaise
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting and watery diarrhea lasting 3–7 days
  • Mild to severe dehydration: See clinical signs of significant dehydration.

References:[2]

Diagnostics

  • Antigen detection in stool via enzyme immunoassay (EIA): a highly sensitive test that can be performed quickly and easily

References:[6]

Differential diagnoses

The differential diagnoses listed here are not exhaustive.

Treatment

References:[7]

Prevention

References:[8][9][10]