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Rotavirus

What is rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a common stomach virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Children with weak immune systems are at high risk of rotavirus infection, and it can be dangerous for them. This is especially true for children who have had a stem cell transplant.

Rotavirus symptoms

  • Vomiting and watery diarrhea for 3 – 8 days
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration (crying with few or no tears is a sign)
  • Unusually sleepy or fussy
     

How rotavirus spreads

Rotavirus lives in the feces of infected people. People catch it by touching something with the germ on it and then touching their mouth. Rotavirus may be found on:

  • Hands
  • Objects such as toys
  • Surfaces such as sheets, counters, or door handles
  • Food or drinks

Rotavirus spreads easily among babies and young children. It takes about 2 days to get sick after the virus enters the body. Children can spread it before and after they show symptoms.

How to protect your child at the hospital

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is the best way to stop the spread of rotavirus. Hand sanitizer is less likely to kill it.

Wash your hands with soap and water:

  • Before and after you enter your child’s room
  • Before appointments
  • After using the toilet
  • Before and after you eat
  • After taking off gloves

The CDC offers videos and information on handwashing.  

Wear gloves to help protect your child and others. If your child has rotavirus, everyone who enters your child’s room must wear gowns and gloves. Wear gloves when you:

  • Touch items such as bedpans and toilets
  • Handle urine or bowel movements
  • Change diapers
  • Change linens such as sheets, towels, or gowns

Handle food safely. This will help protect your child from rotavirus.

  • Throw away open food and drinks after 1 hour.
  • Do not put food or drinks from your child’s patient room in a common-area refrigerator.
  • Order food for yourself, your child, and other caregivers from hospital room service.

Handle personal items correctly. This will help protect your child and others.

  • Limit the number of personal items in your child’s room. All surfaces in the room should be cleaned daily. Extra items in the room makes cleaning harder.
  • Wash toys before taking them out of your child’s room. Do not use plush toys in isolation rooms.
  • Put soiled items in a plastic bag before taking them out of your child’s room. If possible, wash them in hot water and bleach.
  • Use hospital gowns, pajamas, and linens instead of personal clothing or linens.
  • Use a hospital-approved laundry soap (like Tide®) when washing clothes or linens.
     

For more information

If you have questions about rotavirus, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse. You can also visit Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotavirus.
 

Reminders

  • Rotavirus is a common stomach bug. Children with weak immune systems are at higher risk of getting sick from rotavirus.
  • Children who have had a stem cell transplant are at extra risk of catching and getting very sick from rotavirus.
  • Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent rotavirus. Hand sanitizer is less likely to kill this virus.


Reviewed: September 2022