Why learn about rotavirus? It's not as alarming as the skin devouring Leishmania, or as creepy as the Strongyloides parasites...But talk to a parent who's young child has died from it and you'll see why it is not an infection to be taken lightly...
In the developing world, it's a killer to be feared, responsible for over 400,000 deaths each year. Rotavirus infection occurs most often in infants, but repeated, asymptomatic infections are believed to occur in adults. Most children have at least one bout with rotavirus by age 2 or 3.
'Rota' means 'wheel' in Latin. The shape of the virus is spherical, projecting from the surface are 60 "spikes," made up of another protein known as VP4. The VP4 spikes are what enable rotavirus to enter intestinal cells.
Like many other types of illness, rotavirus infection occurs by the fecal-oral route. After a symptomless period of 1 - 2 days, the onset of gastroenteritis is sudden. Symptoms can last from 4 - 5 days and range from diarrhea and vomiting, to fever, and occasional abdominal pain. Loss of fluids and electrolytes can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization, and is the main cause of death in infected young children.
Diarrhea is one of the most communicable diseases encountered and can be particularly devastating in situations where children congregate repeatedly. Daycare and nursery schools serve as a major reservoir of this condition.
Rotavirus infection appears to peak during the winter season, except in countries with tropical or subtropical climates, where the virus is present year around.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Neurologic symptoms may occur in severe cases as a result of electrolyte imbalance or direct viral infection of the central nervous system. Rotavirus has also been associated with aseptic meningitis, necrotizing enterocolitis, acute myositis, hepatic abscess, pneumonia, Kawasaki disease, SIDS and Crohn's disease
Although the number of rotavirus-related fatalities in this country is low, the economic effect of rotaviral infections remains significant, due to the considerable amount of time lost from school and work.
Other than vaccination, there is no effective way to completely eliminate rotavirus infection or its spread. Washing with soaps or cleansers does not kill the virus but will help reduce the spread of infection. To prevent the spread of all diarrheal diseases, it is important to maintain strict hygienic practices at home and in day-care centers. Wash hands after using the toilet, after helping a child use the toilet, after diapering a child, and before preparing or serving food. Diagnosis
There have been many efforts to develop rapid and economical methods for detecting rotavirus antigen in stool. Simple to perform enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and latex agglutination kits have been developed. These antigen-detection systems have become the test of choice in the clinical setting.
The IVD Rotavirus Antigen Detection ELISA is an in vitro procedure for the qualitative determination of rotavirus antigen in feces. It is a double antibody (sandwich) ELISA using a polyclonal anti-rotavirus antibody to capture the antigen from the stool
Although rotavirus infections are unpleasant, you can treat most of them at home with extra fluids to prevent dehydration. Occasionally, severe dehydration requires intravenous fluids in the hospital.
The Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding (breast milk or diluted formula in infants and lactose free carbohydrate rich foods such as plain white rice, in older children) within 24 hours after onset of illness and Fruit juices and soft drinks are not recommended due to their high glucose content, low sodium content and high osmolarity.
Viral infections are not treatable with antibiotics.