It was a Wednesday. Eight-month-old Daniel started to have a fever and began vomiting. Soon after, he developed watery green and foul-smelling diarrhoea. Helpless, Daniel’s parents took him to the hospital. By the time the doctor saw Daniel, he had lost so much fluid.
Upon physical examination by the doctor, signs of dehydration were obvious: Daniel was pale, had sunken eyes, cried without tears and appeared lethargic. He was placed on an IV drip immediately.
The doctor ordered a stool test. It came back positive for rotavirus.
How did Daniel contract rotavirus?
Daniel’s mom, Liza was sure her baby caught the rotavirus from his four-year-old sister, Rose. Two days ago, Rose, had the same symptoms.
Liza traced it back to Rose’s day-care centre and believed that was where it all began.
At the hospital, the doctor explained how the virus could have spread to Rose when she touched an object contaminated with infected stools, and unwittingly put her hand into her mouth. Also, the virus can survive for weeks on surfaces, especially if the centre is not properly cleaned or sanitised.
A Paediatrician’s Advise
According to Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, a consultant paediatrician and Immunise4Life Technical Committee Chairman, the above scenario is quite common. He explained that rotavirus is the most common and potentially lethal virus affecting infants and young children. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea, which appear within two days of exposure to the virus.
He said, “Almost every child would have an episode of rotavirus gastroenteritis by the age of five years. But unlike some diseases, there is no specific treatment for rotavirus. So, when it happens, we can only try and manage the symptoms as best as we can.”
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How can parents prevent rotavirus?
“Parents can reduce virus transmission by practising good personal and environmental hygiene like regular handwashing and sanitising frequently touched surfaces,” said Datuk Zulkifli.
“But these measures are not enough,” he added. “Parents should also talk to their doctors about immunising their child against rotavirus.”
 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/frequently-asked-questions-about-rotavirus/
CDC. 2018. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/rota.html (Accessed on March 15, 2019)
WebMD. n.d. What is Rotavirus? https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/what-is-rotavirus#1 (Accessed on March 13, 2019).
WHO. 2018. Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/rotavirus/en/ (Accessed on March 15, 2019)