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Rotavirus is a leading cause of gastroenteritis in the United States and worldwide. Characterized by frequent watery stools, illness ranges from mild diarrhea to disease complicated by severe dehydration, especially in young children.
- Rotavirus is a major cause of diarrheal disease and accounts for 5% of all deaths in children <5 years of age worldwide.
- The peak age for infection is between 6 and 24 months of age. Nearly all children acquire the virus by 5 years of age.
- In temperate climates, rotavirus activity peaks during the cold weather months but can appear year round in warmer climates.
- Transmission occurs primarily by the fecal–oral route.
- Rotavirus is highly contagious. This is due to several factors.
- The virus has a very low inoculum of infection, requiring as few as 10 infectious particles to cause disease.
- A high density of virus is shed into the stool during acute illness and for 1–3 days before and after diarrhea.
- There is prolonged survival of the virus on a variety of environmental surfaces.
- The incubation period is 1–3 days.
- Prior to the rotavirus vaccine, U.S. children <5 years of age with diarrhea had a hospitalization rate of 52/10,000 person-years and an ED visit rate of 185/10,000 person-years.
- After the rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2006, the hospitalization rate for all children <5 years with diarrhea fell by nearly 50% and ED visits by 25%.
- Young infants, especially preterm infants, are at higher risk for severe dehydration and gastrointestinal complications.
- Immunocompromised patients, particularly with primary immunodeficiencies and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation are at higher risk for complications and prolonged shedding.
- Proper hand hygiene and cleaning of contaminated surfaces is essential to reducing person-to-person transmission.
- Contact precautions for hospitalized patients
- Two live oral vaccines are licensed in the US:
- Live human/bovine reassortant pentavalent rotavirus (RV5). Given as a 3-dose series.
- Live human attenuated monovalent rotavirus (RV1). Given as a 2-dose series.
- Rotavirus infects and replicates within the enterocytes of the small bowel. Several factors appear to contribute to secretory diarrhea.
- The nonstructural protein (NSP4) acts as an enterotoxin that triggers secretory diarrhea by increasing Cl− secretion and decreasing Na+ absorption.
- Malabsorption develops due to disruption of microvilli and decreased surface transport of digestive enzymes.
- NSP4 appears to activate the enteric nervous system, which activates a secretory state that further contributes to intestinal fluid loss.
- Rotavirus is an 11-segment double-stranded RNA virus with 7 different antigenic groups (A–G).
- Types A, B, and C are responsible for most human infections, with group A being the most common.
- Group A rotavirus is further divided into multiple serotypes based on 2 outer capsid viral proteins: VP7 (G) and VP4 (P).