Tyrone Medical Associates provides information on rotavirus

It is important for parents to be reminded that winter through spring is the season when infants and children are most likely to contract gastrointestinal illness caused by the rotavirus and to be aware of steps they can take to reduce their child’s risk.
The rotavirus can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, stomach ache and fever (gastroenteritits).
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) nearly every child in the United States is infected with rotavirus by age five and most will develop gastroenteritis, leading to a large number of physician visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, with a few deaths. In fact, rotavirus infections are so common that most children have at least one bout with rotavirus by age 2 or 3.
Kishor Patel, M.D., a pediatrician at Tyrone Medical Associates said symptoms of rotavirus related illness can last for several days.
Rotavirus is highly contagious. It is present in an infected person\’s stool several days before symptoms appear through up to 10 days after symptoms subside.
“The virus spreads easily through hand-to-mouth contact throughout this time — even if the infected person doesn\’t have symptoms,” said Dr. Patel.
Frequent hand washing and keeping surfaces clean can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“If you have rotavirus and you don\’t wash your hands after using the toilet — or your child has rotavirus and you don\’t wash your hands after changing your child\’s diaper or helping your child use the toilet — the virus can spread to anything you touch, including food, toys and utensils. If another person touches your unwashed hand or a contaminated object and then touches his or her mouth, an infection may follow.”
Sometimes rotavirus spreads through contaminated water or infected respiratory droplets coughed or sneezed into the air.
Parents need to be conscientious and treat symptoms as soon as they appear. Dr. Patel said that because children are smaller and have less developed immune systems, an illness can impact them more intensely that it would in a healthy adult.
“In infants and children, symptoms of gastroenteritis can easily lead to dehydration. If the dehydration is severe, a child may need to be hospitalized to be rehydrated through an IV.”
A vaccine is also available to help protect little ones from the rotavirus.
The vaccine is recommended by the CDC and approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The CDC recommends infants receive three doses of the oral vaccine at two, four, and six months of age. Children should receive the first dose of the vaccine by 12 weeks of age and should receive all doses of the vaccine by 32 weeks of age.
Dr. Patel said there\’s no specific treatment for a rotavirus illness. To prevent dehydration while the virus runs it course, give your child plenty of fluids. If your child has severe diarrhea, offer an oral rehydration fluid such as Pedialyte — especially if the diarrhea lasts longer than a few days. For children, a rehydration fluid can replace lost minerals more effectively than can water or other liquids.
Parents are advised to call their doctor if their child has severe or bloody diarrhea, frequent episodes of vomiting for more than three hours, a temperature of 102 F or higher, seems lethargic, irritable or in pain, has signs or symptoms of dehydration — dry mouth, crying without tears, little or no urination, unusual sleepiness or unresponsiveness.
For more information about the rotavirus and the rotavirus vaccine, contact Tyrone Medical Associates at 684-3101.