Gastroenteritis refers to an inflammation of the gastrointestinal or GI tract, usually caused by a virus called rotavirus. But how does rotavirus cause gastroenteritis, and what steps can people take in order to avoid getting infected?
How Does Rotavirus Cause Gastroenteritis?
Viral gastroenteritis is the most common form of gastroenteritis. Among adults, the virus responsible for gastroenteritis is usually the norovirus; while in children, it is the rotavirus. The reason behind this is that their immune systems are not yet well-developed, so they are more prone to being infected.
Worldwide, it is estimated that around 180,000 to 450,000 children die because of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus. This is why it is important to take gastroenteritis in children seriously, especially if a child shows more serious symptoms.
The main mode of transmission for infection by rotavirus is through the fecal-oral route. This means that when a person touches contaminated surfaces and then puts their fingers in their mouth, or eats something using their hands, they can get infected.
A person can also be infected if they drink water contaminated with rotavirus. This is usually the case in places where there is no clean drinking water, or if the water supply has been contaminated by sewage.
What are the Symptoms?
Viral gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus can have a wide variety of symptoms. Here are some of the possible symptoms of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus:
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are usually the first symptoms of rotavirus infection, especially in children. This mainly results from the digestive tract being inflamed, and eating or drinking can irritate the digestive tract even further, causing people to vomit or feel queasy.
Patients with rotavirus also usually experience fever as one of the initial symptoms. About 30-40% of children with rotavirus experience moderate fever as one of their symptoms. This usually tends to go away after two to three days up to a week, along with nausea and vomiting.
Another symptom of gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus is diarrhea. This symptom usually appears after vomiting and fever. It is important for parents to pay attention to their child’s symptoms, especially when it comes to diarrhea.
The reason behind this is that diarrhea can potentially lead to dehydration. If left untreated, patients can experience electrolyte imbalance, shock, and possibly death.
Rotavirus Gastroenteritis Treatment
For the most part, there is no rotavirus gastroenteritis treatment per se. This is because it is a viral infection, so antibiotics and similar forms of medication won’t be able to help. The best thing to do if a person has viral gastroenteritis would be to make sure that the symptoms are managed well.
Dehydration is the biggest risk for patients with viral gastroenteritis. By staying hydrate and making sure that they have enough electrolytes, dehydration can be prevented.
If the patient is not getting any better, or their symptoms are getting worse, seek medical attention. In some cases, intravenous fluids might be required to keep the patient hydrated, and most patients usually recover afterward.
How Can it Be Prevented?
Here are two of the most effective ways of preventing gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus:
Wash your hands often
Frequent handwashing is a simple, yet effective means of preventing sickness and infection. Be sure to wash your hands with clean, running water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
Be sure to clean in between your fingers, as well as under your fingernails. Afterward, dry your hands with a clean towel.
Avoid drinking contaminated water
As much as possible, try to avoid drinking water that has been contaminated. This means that you might need to boil your water before drinking or buy bottled water instead. This helps lower the risk of infection that might be caused by contaminated water.
Learn more about Gastroenteritis here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.