Rotavirus: A threat to your child's well-being
Close your eyes, take a deep breath. You will find yourself immersed in the fragrance of spring. Spring, the queen of all seasons, spreads over mid-February to mid-March. People say that this is the season for cleansing. It cleanses one's heart and soul and makes it a new.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for everyone, when it comes to the health issues. Change of season sees a lot of people getting sick. Fever, cough, running nose, etc let their presence known.
One of the diseases that rears its ugly head during this season is diarrhea. During this period of the year, children who are under the age of five suffer most from this dreadful condition. Diarrhea is a disease that causes an individual to pass loose or watery stools, three times or more in 24 hours.
It's shocking that even in this era, diarrhea is still the second leading cause of death among children who are under 5. Statistics will tell you that about 9 per cent of all deaths in that age group is due to this easily treatable disease.
Diarrhea is caused by a plethora of organisms -- virus, bacteria, protozoan - you name it! However, it is most commonly caused by Rotavirus, especially among children.
Rotavirus can cause diarrhea during any time of the year. In Bangladesh, Rotaviral diarrhea is most common during winter and spring.
People at risk:
Anyone can come down with Rotaviral diarrhea. However, children are more at risk than adults. Also, people with compromised immunity (Such as those who are suffering from HIV) are more prone to an attack of Rotavirus than others.
Repeated infections with Rotavirus are prevalent. However, the severity lessens with each episode.
How does it spread?
Rotavirus may take up to 10 days to present itself after entering into the body. If a child has the virus in his or her system, and he or she can spread the disease to other children and even adults.
Signs and symptoms:
The main feature of Rotaviral diarrhea is vomiting and watery diarrhea which lasts for 3 to 8 days. Other relatively common symptoms are fever and abdominal pain. Other symptoms include:
* Loss of appetite
* Moderate to severe dehydration
* Decreased urination
* Crying with few or no tears
* Unusual irritability
* Abnormal sleepiness
Symptoms are more or less the same in the case of adults. However, they are much less severe.
Rotaviral diarrhea goes away after a few days. This is a disease that does not require antibiotic or other expensive treatment modality to recover from. What we need to ensure is that the child or the adult is getting enough oral saline (ORS) to prevent dehydration.
* For children over 10 and adults: As much ORS as they want.
* For children below 5: To determine the required amount of ORS, we would need to weigh the child. If a child's weight is 10kilograms and he is suffering from Rotaviral diarrhea, all you need to do is to give him 10 teaspoonfuls of ORS (1teaspoon holds 5 ml of ORS, 1 teaspoon of ORS for each kilogram).
* In severe cases, the patient may require admission to the hospital and intravenous fluid. However, if he is given an adequate amount of ORS, the risk of the disease get severe lessens significantly.
When to consult a doctor:
If your child-
* is suffering from diarrhea for more than a day
* vomits everything or frequently
* passes black or tarry stool
* becomes irritable or unusually sleepy
* has a fever (his temperature is 104 F or more)
Then you should consider consulting a physician.
Rotaviral diarrhea may become severe enough to cause death! Another complication that is associated with Rotaviral diarrhea, but not caused by it is Hypernatremia.
Hypernatremia is a condition of the body where the concentration of sodium in the body becomes more than usual. It is caused by drinking excessive ORS or consuming ORS that was wrongfully prepared. Each ORS packet comes with explicit instruction regarding its preparation. By following those instructions and by giving the proper amount of ORS to a child, this severe and life-threatening condition can be averted.
Prevention is always better than cure, and it is very easy to prevent the spread of Rotavirus. The virus spreads through the fecal-oral route. By merely washing hand with soap after using the toilet, cleaning your baby and helping your child after he uses the toilet, you can markedly reduce the chance of a rotaviral infection.
Currently, there are two types of vaccination available to immunise your child against Rotavirus. They are:
1. RotaTeq: This is an oral vaccine which has three doses. Usually, the first dose is given at 2nd month, and then the latter two is administered at two months interval. Although it is reported that a few of the children receiving RotaTeq has developed intussusception, a life-threatening disease, CDC (USA) did not find any relation between the vaccine and intussusception.
2. Rotarix: Rotarix is also an oral vaccine with only two doses. This one is usually given at ages 2 months and 4 months. Clinical trials have shown no increased risk of intussusception for those who take this vaccine.