Treatment, Prognosis and Prevention of Rotavirus Diarrhea

Rotavirus diarrhea/infection is a common problem among infants and young children. The disease also can not be prevented by improving sanitation, which can only be prevented by vaccination.

Treatment of rotavirus diarrhea:

The treatment of rotavirus infection/diarrhea is mainly symptomatic and nonspecific, as there are no effective antiviral antibiotics available against rota virus. Treatment with antiviral antibiotics is not required. The most important symptomatic treatment of rota virus diarrhea is treatment of dehydration. If dehydration is not corrected appropriately patient may die from severe dehydration.

Mild dehydration is treated (can be done at home) with ORS (oral rehydration salt/solution) and moderate to severe dehydration should be treated in hospital with intravenous fluids. In severe cases electrolyte and blood sugar levels need to be monitored.

What is the prognosis of rota virus diarrhea treatment?

The prognosis is excellent in rotavirus diarrhea treatment, if treatment is started early and done adequately. Most of the complications and deaths in rotavirus diarrhea are due to inadequate treatment and delay in starting treatment. Some rare complications of rotavirus infection include spread of virus to CNS (central nervous system) which may lead to meningitis and encephalitis.

Prevention of rotavirus diarrhea:

Improved sanitation can not prevent rotavirus diarrhea/infection. This is clear from the fact that rota virus diarrhea is equally common in countries with improved sanitation standards (in developed nations) and countries with poor sanitation standards (underdeveloped and developing nations). One gram stool of an infected person can contain as many as 10 trillions of virus particles and only 10-100 virus particles are required for initiating an infection (infect another person), which explains the seriousness of infection.

The only effective way to prevent rotavirus infection is vaccination. Currently live attenuated rotavirus vaccine is available for oral administration and licensed in over 100 countries. Some countries are doing rotavirus vaccination routinely. The current live attenuated rotavirus vaccine is against most common type, i.e. against rotavirus A.

How effective is rotavirus vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccine is highly effective in preventing rotavirus infection/diarrhea. The WHO recommends the inclusion of rotavirus vaccine in national immunization programs. In the United States before introduction of rotavirus vaccine in routine immunization program there used to be approximately 30-40 deaths, approximately 60,000 hospitalizations and more than 2.5 million rotavirus diarrhea cases every year. After introduction of rotavirus vaccine in routine immunization the numbers have come down drastically, which proves that rotavirus vaccine is highly effective.

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