Rotavirus infection in children: symptoms and treatment

Rotavirus infection in children: symptoms and treatment

Every year more than a billion cases of rotavirus are detected in the world. As a rule, the virus affects children more often than adults. The latter can pick up the disease when caring for a sick child, less often the infection comes from an external source. Distinguishing rotavirus infection from poisoning at home can be very problematic, so it is recommended that you seek medical attention for any suspicious symptoms.

What is rotavirus?

One of the most sensitive systems in the human body is the digestive system. Every day, the gastrointestinal tract processes a large amount of food and water. However, the quality of the products and sources of water can be very doubtful. Products may be infected with viruses, microorganisms, heavy metals and other toxins.

When these agents penetrate the digestive system, the digestive processes are disturbed and the cells of the stomach and intestines are destroyed. The most frequent consequence of ingestion of contaminated food is an acute intestinal infection. This disease can be caused by many infectious agents, but more often than other sources of acute intestinal infection are viruses of the Rotavirus genus.

This genus includes 9 species of rotaviruses, of which only 3 (A, B and C) can infect the human small intestine, the most commonly diagnosed species is A. Rotavirus is able to exist for a long time in the environment, settling on pieces of furniture, clothing , food, getting into the water. When it enters the body, it first passes through the acidic environment of the stomach, then the virus infects the enterocytes of the villi of the small intestine and begins to reproduce its copies at a high speed.

When a certain concentration of the virus in the cell is reached, the latter dies, and copies of the viruses exit into the intestinal environment. Some viruses are eliminated from the body, but most of them continue to capture new enterocytes and actively reproduce.

How do rotaviruses enter the body?

The nutritional mechanism of transmission of infection ensures high infectivity of rotavirus infection. Viruses trapped in the external environment, can be on a variety of surfaces (mobile phones, bank notes, door handles). From there, infectious agents enter the human oral cavity, literally 1 or 2 copies of the virus are enough to develop the infection.

Infecting a family member greatly increases the risk of infecting others. Despite the observance of all precautions in the care, it is very difficult to eliminate the possibility of group infection.

Rotavirus infection in children
Photo: George Rudy /

The prescribed contingent (people who have a lot of contact with others in their professional activities – food service workers, salespeople, teachers) can also be infected with rotavirus. Therefore, do not exclude the possibility of infection, even with all precautions.

Symptoms of rotavirus infection

The incubation period of the virus (from the time it enters the body until the first signs of the disease appear) is usually 24-48 hours. After this time, a sharp development of the disease begins. For many, the onset of infection is a cold. There is a rise in temperature, signs of rhinitis, cough, sore throat. After a few days, signs of an acute intestinal disorder are added to flu symptoms. Due to the duality of symptoms, rotavirus infection is often called “gastric or intestinal flu.”

Rotavirus infection in children

Children of preschool age in most cases suffer the disease most seriously. Infection leads to severe intoxication of the child’s body, and severe intestinal disorders complicate the picture. In most cases, the following symptoms of rotavirus infection in children are observed:

Symptom Disease Symptom Characteristic
General intoxication The first symptom that occurs in infants. There is a decrease in activity, lethargy, refusal to eat, unreasonable crying, increased sweating.
Older children also show this symptom. Complaints of dizziness and headache may be added.
Temperature increase In most cases, there is an increase in body temperature to 38-39 ° C for the first 3 days of the disease, then the temperature decreases while maintaining the rest of the clinical picture.
In severe cases with a high degree of intoxication, an elevated temperature can persist for up to 7 days or more.
Diarrhea In children under 2 years of age, defecation during infection may occur up to 14 times per day. In this case, the chair is almost entirely composed of water with patches of mucus, in structure resembles foam. Loose stools can last up to 2 weeks.
Frequent stools lead to increased dehydration, which can lead to additional toxicity and complication of the disease.
Vomiting Recurrent vomiting during the day may accompany the development of infection in children on the first day. Children under the age of 12 months suffer from vomiting longer, up to 48 hours.
Abdominal Pain Abdominal pain of moderate severity, may increase pain in the middle and lower parts when probing.

It should be noted that the severity of symptoms in each child is individual. There is a tendency to relieve symptoms with increasing age of the child. However, for any signs of acute intestinal infection, you should immediately seek medical attention.

Symptoms of rotavirus infection
Photo: Billion Photos /

Rotavirus infection in adults

Symptoms in adults and adolescents, as a rule, are the same as in children, but to a lesser degree. Intoxication syndrome may not appear externally or expressed weakness and loss of appetite. Subfebrile temperature may be observed, the symptom duration is up to 24 hours. Upset stool lasts from 3 to 7 days (up to 5 bowel movements per day). Vomiting manifests itself individually.

Dangerous symptoms

These symptoms are those that indicate an extremely severe course of the disease and require inpatient treatment under the supervision of medical personnel. Particular attention should be paid to the monitoring of these symptoms in children, because they can not report ailments. When identifying these signs, you should immediately contact the ambulance.

  • Red blood in the stool or black with a shiny shade of feces. This symptom is observed in intestinal bleeding. Such a patient’s condition requires immediate hospitalization through an ambulance.
  • Increasing the number of bowel movements (up to 10 times / day) or repeated vomiting (up to 7 times / day). This increase in symptoms leads to a dangerous degree of dehydration. Intravenous infusion of lost volume of water and electrolytes is required.
  • Severe abdominal pain. A sharp increase in pain indicates damage to the tissues of the intestine.
  • Rash on the body. The appearance of rare red spots on the body up to 0.5 cm indicates the possibility of typhoid or paratyphoid disguised as a rotavirus infection.

Diagnosis of rotavirus infection

Despite the fairly similar symptoms to many diseases, there are a number of diagnostic signs used by doctors when making a diagnosis:

  • Acute onset of the disease;
  • High virus activity is observed at any time of the year. It is believed that the peak incidence in autumn and winter, but in the summer there is a high probability of infection when swimming in water;
  • No rash;
  • Short term hyperthermia (up to 39 ° C);
  • Specific clinical picture (see the Symptoms section)

Changes in standard laboratory tests (complete blood count, urine, feces) are not specific to rotavirus diseases. As a rule, they characterize the symptoms of the disease (intoxication of the body, dehydration, etc.). To confirm the rotavirus nature of the disease, one of the following specific laboratory tests must be carried out:

Diagnostic Method Method Principle Disease Changes
Virological research The causative agent of an infection isolated from the feces of the person being examined is “podselyaetsya” in cell culture. Then, the effect of the infectious agent on the cells is observed. The ability to track the mechanism of action of rotaviruses on a living cell.
Serological blood test Identification of the virus is carried out by adding the pathogen antigens to the blood. In the presence of antibodies in the blood, the reaction will be positive. This indicates the presence of a virus in the body and an immune response to it. Antibodies to a particular type of rotavirus.

Disease therapy begins without laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis. After receiving results from the laboratory, the doctor may adjust the course in accordance with the new data.

Treatment of rotavirus infection

The symptoms and treatment of this disease depend on the level of activity of the infectious agent. In most cases, rotavirus infection is successfully treated on an outpatient basis, i.e. at home. Hospitalization of the patient in the hospital is required only in severe cases of the disease, with very late medical care or if the dangerous symptoms described above are detected.

Treatment of rotavirus infection
Photo: fotografos /

Adults and children over 12 should follow a diet. It is not recommended to eat foods that stimulate the digestive system, as this food can provoke longer diarrhea. These products include:

  • High fiber foods (vegetables, fruits, including dry ones);
  • Bread and flour products;
  • Foods high in fat, salt, spices;
  • Fresh milk;
  • Broths.

Until full recovery should refrain from this food, eat fractionally in small portions of lightly salted porridge.

Rotavirus Elimination

What drugs can help cure rotavirus? Different sorbents are used to remove virus particles from the intestinal wall space. It is important to observe adequate dosages of the drug.

Drug Dosage
Activated Carbon 4-6 tablets several times a day
Smecta (Neosmectin) 3-4 sachets / day
Polysorb (Enterodez) 1-2 sachets / day

Infants dosage of enterosorbents must be selected individually. For convenience, it is recommended to use drugs in the form of gels and syrups, or grind tablets in water and give them on a teaspoon.
Also, many doctors recommend using Arbidol and Anaferon to speed up recovery. Taking these drugs can reduce the time of illness by several days.

Elimination of dehydration and intoxication

Recurring diarrhea and vomiting lead to the loss of large amounts of fluid and trace elements necessary for the body. Therefore, a mandatory component of the treatment of any strong intestinal infection are drugs that restore the water-salt balance of the body. Such drugs include Gastrolit, Regidron, Glukosolan.

If it is impossible to immediately use the listed drugs, you can use a self-prepared solution. To do this, in 1 liter of pure boiled water, 20 g of sugar (4 tbsp), 3 g of salt (1 tsp) and 3 g of baking soda (1 tsp) must be dissolved. Such a solution may initially alleviate the patient’s condition, but it is not necessary to treat only with his help for a long time. As part of the missing many important for active recovery of micronutrients.

Restoration of bowel function

Any aggressive infectious agent damages the beneficial microflora of the human digestive tract. To restore the balance of beneficial bacteria after cessation of diarrhea, the use of probiotic preparations is necessary. These include: Linex , Lactofiltrum, Bifidum, Bifidumbakterin. The use of sour-milk products also contributes to the active reproduction and development of the intestinal microflora, however, it is not necessary to start using it until complete recovery.

Care for an infant with rotavirus

Care for an infant with rotavirus
Photo: avtk /

Infants suffer the disease most severely and require careful care. For complete safety of a child with rotavirus infection, the following measures should be observed:

  • Proper nutrition. When breastfeeding should continue the diet in the same mode, but at least 4-6 times / day. When feeding with artificial mixtures, it is recommended to use mixtures with a reduced content of lactose.
  • Compliance with prescribed therapy. Despite the fact that it is sometimes very difficult for an infant to give certain medications, it is necessary to carefully follow the recommendations of the attending physician. If difficulties do arise, consult your pediatrician what to give your child at that age. Doctors recommend using liquid dosage forms of drugs or crushing tablets in a small amount of water.
  • Regular change of diapers / diapers. To prevent irritation of the skin and the formation of maceration areas, it is necessary to change the diaper or diaper of the child after each wet.
  • Monitoring the condition of the child. Small children cannot signal that they have a pain or their condition worsens. Therefore, it is necessary to carefully monitor the level of activity of the child, his behavior and immediately seek medical attention when alarming symptoms appear.

Medicines for children from rotavirus

For the treatment of this infectious disease in children include the same group of drugs as in adults. However, for a child’s body, it is necessary to more carefully select the dosage and dosage form of the drugs. So below you will know what to give the child with such an infection:

  • Sorbents. For infants, the use of such sorbents as Polysorb MP, Enterosgel, Smekta, Polifan is shown. These drugs can also be used for older children. But with the use of activated carbon, pediatricians recommend waiting until the age of 7 years.
  • Preparations for the restoration of dehydration and removal of intoxication. The following drugs are recommended for children up to 2 years old: Regidron, Rehydralitis, Pedialitis. The above recipe for a solution of salt, soda and sugar can only be used for children over 2 years of age.
  • Restoration of microflora. The following drugs are used as probiotic preparations for infants: Drops of BioGay, Bifiform Baby, Prema Kids, Simiter acidophilus and others. It is very important to remember that breast milk is the optimal composition for the growth of beneficial microflora and regular breastfeeding will help your baby recover faster.

Prevention of rotavirus infection

Preventive measures to significantly reduce the risk of infection with rotavirus infection include hygiene and vaccination.
To prevent infection of rotaviruses, you should regularly wash your hands with soap, do not drink raw water, and wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly with special detergents. As a rule, compliance with these measures does not cause problems in an adult. However, the full implementation of these rules by the child is almost impossible.

For additional insurance against the disease, vaccination against rotavirus infection can be performed. There are at least 2 vaccines available: RoTatek and Rotarix. Both apply only to children under the age of 2 years. The drugs are manufactured in Europe and have all the quality certificates confirming their clinical efficacy. However, rotavirus vaccination is nor covered by the most types of health insurance, so the vaccine must be obtained additionally.

Interesting facts

Rotavirus treatment by soda drinks

Although doctors believe carbonated drinks to be harmful in general, at the first signs of rotavirus infection Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola can really reduce nausea and help stop vomiting.

Rotaviruses Return

After the infection, the child develops immunity against rotavirus. However, it lasts only for the couple of weeks. Doctors recommend vaccination to form a stronger immune defense.

Danger of rotavirus infections

For adults and most children, the disease, although very unpleasant, does not pose a serious threat. Danger can be a severe form of infection in young children.

Antibacterial drugs

Rotavirus infection is not treated with antibiotics. However, this disease can significantly reduce the immune capacity of the digestive tract. Against this background, the likelihood of the development of pathogenic microflora of the digestive tract. In order to avoid such consequences, taking antimicrobial drugs based on Nifuroxazide is recommended ( Enterofuril , Ecofuril, Ersefuril).

Pain reliever against abdominal pain

With rotavirus infection, symptoms do not include acute abdominal pain. If the stomach is still very sore – this is a clear reason to go to the doctor.

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