UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Rotavirus

Posted: 1/4/2013 by Lauren Rice, MD (Updated: 12/8/2022)
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Rotavirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis worldwide and a leading cause of infant death in the developing world.

95% of U.S. children have had a rotavirus infection by the age of 5 years.

Most cases occur in late winter and early spring.

Route of transmission is mostly fecal-oral but may be airborne in cooler months.

Most common presenting signs and symptoms include fever (1/3 of cases), vomiting (in the first 1-2 days), and diarrhea (copious, watery, lasting 5-21 days).

Diagnosis is largely based on clinical manifestations, but antigen assays are available and may be useful in patients with extraintestinal complications, such as hepatitis, pneumonitis, or encephalopathy.

Treatment is largely supportive with efforts to maintain hydration.

Prevention is key to disease control and accomplished with good hand hygiene and widespread vaccination.

Newly implemented vaccine programs worldwide have proven to be effective in decreasing hospitalizations and deaths in developing countries.


Cox, Elaine and Christenson, John. Rotavirus. Pediatrics in Review. 2012; 33 (10): 439 - 447.