Infections affecting the gastrointestinal system are becoming more common, and one of these infections is rotavirus infection. Rotavirus infection is caused by rotavirus, a virus that infects the bowels. Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children and infants. It can also cause the deaths of thousands of children worldwide; however vaccination has been made available in most countries. Vaccination is not totally effective in preventing the disease however because different strains can infect people. Immunity is only achieved after several infections of the same strains of the virus.
Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family of viruses and contains double-stranded RNA with a double-shelled outer layer known as a capsid. This virus commonly affects infants and young children yet adults may also acquire this viral infection. Different strains of the virus are available so that children and infants can have repeated rotavirus infections within a short period of time.
There are people who are especially prone to have rotavirus infections. Those who can easily contact the infection include infants and young children. Also who are prone to rotavirus infections are those who are in constant close contact with infected people and children in group day-care settings. It is said that most children can acquire rotavirus infections by the age of 3 years.
The incubation period or the time from initial infection to the onset of symptoms of the infection is about two days. Symptoms of the disease include, vomiting, nausea, fever and watery diarrhea. There may also be abdominal pain along with profuse watery diarrhea for several times a day. These symptoms may usually last for three to nine days. Immunity is incomplete after viral infection however repeated infections are less severe than the original infection.
Rotavirus infection can bring about severe dehydration in infants and children, which can further lead to death, although this may be rare. This is why parents need to identify symptoms of dehydration so that they may treat dehydration as soon as possible. These symptoms of hypertension include lethargy, dry and cool skin, absence of tears when crying, dry mouth or mucous membranes, sunken eyes, sunken fontanel, and extreme thirst.
Rotavirus is a highly contagious disease which is transmitted through the passage of the virus in stools to the mouth of another child. This is known as fecal-oral route of transmission. This infection can be transmitted easily when people forget to wash their hands before they eat or after they use the toilet. Infections can also result from touching a contaminated surface and then touching the mouth area. Rotavirus can also live in respiratory tract secretions and other body fluids. It can also have the ability to live in hard and dry surfaces and even on human hands.
The diagnosis of rotavirus infection may be made by rapid detection of rotavirus in stool specimens. It may also be diagnosed through testing with enzyme immunoassay or polymerase chain reaction. There is no specific treatment for rotavirus. This infection may limit itself to the bowels only and may last for only a few days. Increased fluid intake or oral rehydration should be done, and hospitalizations may be needed for intravenous fluids administration.
Rotavirus Infection and Type 1 Diabetes
A recent study by researchers from the University of Melbourne has shown that rotavirus infection can accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes in mice. The results were published in the recent issue of PLOS Pathogens. The researchers believe that rotavirus infection brings about autoimmune disease in mice which can later on lead to Type 1 diabetes. The virus seems to activate the immune system strongly, causing spillover and attack of the body cells not only on viruses and other foreign bodies but also on the body's own cells, including the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
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