Diarrhea is a pain for children and parents alike, and sometimes it’s more than just an upset tummy. Having an infant with diarrhea can be scary, but not as scary as it used to be, thanks to the Rotavirus vaccine.
Rotavirus, the most common diarrhea illness in infants and small children, is a very serious condition, and if not treated properly, can result in severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and death.
For parents, it’s not a question of whether your child will get rotavirus – it’s simply a question of when. The illness is most severe the first time an infant is infected, typically when the baby is over three months of age.
This extremely contagious virus is spread through fecal/oral contamination, as well as contaminated food and drink. Rotavirus has a fairly short incubation period, with symptoms usually beginning around 48 hours after exposure.
The symptoms of Rotavirus include:
- Low grade fever
- Diaper rash (due to sheer volume of diaper changes needed)
In 2006, a live vaccine for Rotavirus was released, which has severely decreased the number of hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus.
There are two different types of the vaccine, which are given to infants on a two or three dose schedule. The vaccines are administered at the ages of two months, four months, and six months. Administered orally, this vaccine has a “sweet” flavor and requires no needlestick. A win for parents and babies alike!
The Rotavirus vaccine is completely safe, but there are some infants who should not receive it. Any infants who should avoid the vaccine are those with severe immune problems, allergic reactions to any components of the vaccine, and/or a history of intussusception, a life-threatening condition in which the intestine folds into itself.
As a parent, it’s also important to know the number one rule for preventing Rotavirus contamination – Wash your hands regularly.
The vaccine limits severe complications, but as with any diarrhea illness, keeping your infant hydrated is key. For more information, check out the video from Dr. Cliff James above, or visit with your child’s pediatrician.