Vaccinate Against Rotavirus to Protect Family from Harsh Illness

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If you and your children aren’t protected against rotavirus, you run the risk of suffering from a harsh gastrointestinal virus, which most commonly affects children 6 months to 2 years old. 

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, an infection of the intestines that causes fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, says Aleda Johnson, MD, of Liberty Family Medicine, part of Premier Physician Network.  

Most often, rotavirus is worst during colder months – generally between December and March. 

Though adults can get rotavirus, it’s less common, because most adults have been exposed to it numerous times over the years. When adults catch it, it’s usually a much milder form than what kids get. 

Preventing Rotavirus

Children can be vaccinated to prevent rotavirus.  

There are two immunization options. In one, kids receive the vaccine at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. In the other, kids receive the immunization at only 2 months and 4 months. 

“Another way to prevent the virus is through hand washing,” Dr. Johnson says. “So especially if a parent has a child who has rotavirus, they want to make sure that they wash their hands each time they change their diapers, and you should just practice hand washing in general.” 

Caring for Rotavirus 

Because of the severe watery diarrhea and vomiting that come with rotavirus, children can easily become dehydrated. 

“If a parent has a child that’s sick with rotavirus, they should seek medical attention if there are signs of dehydration,” Dr. Johnson says. “Such signs would include decreased wet diapers. If your child has not had a wet diaper in about four to six hours, if a parent notices that the child does not have tears when they cry, if their mouth looks dry or chapped those could be signs of dehydration.” 

Another sign of dehydration would be if your child’s soft spot on top of her head seems sunken in. 

If symptoms of rotavirus do not seem to improve after two or three days, contact your primary care provider. 

To learn more about rotavirus, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider

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