Rotavirus is a common viral infection causing fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, mostly in babies and young children. It is very easily spread from one person to another.
The main risk of rotavirus is that babies and children may become dehydrated because of vomiting and diarrhoea. When you are dehydrated, you lose water and salt from your body, which can lead to your organs not being able to function properly.
Before vaccines, nearly every child would get this infection by the age of five. Children in New Zealand are now immunised against rotavirus in their six-week and three-month immunisations.
Careful cleaning and handwashing is important to stop the spread of rotavirus. The virus can survive outside the body, so hard surfaces, toys, plates, cutlery and other objects can become contaminated.
If you are concerned about rotavirus call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.
Rotavirus is spread by contact with the faeces (poos) of an infected person. This can happen if people don’t wash their hands properly after going to the toilet or changing nappies.
If your child has a rotavirus infection, they usually develop a fever, then sudden vomiting and diarrhoea. The illness lasts from three to eight days.
Adults can be infected with rotavirus, but the symptoms are usually mild or they have no symptoms.
There is no specific treatment for rotavirus. It is not treated with antibiotics because it is caused by a virus, not a bacteria.
Children from three months to two years are most at risk of severe dehydration.
To help stop rotavirus spreading, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or a hand-sanitising gel.
Stay away from school, early childhood centres or work, and don’t prepare or handle food until two days after the symptoms have resolved.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service provides information about how to manage rotavirus and stop it spreading.
Last updated 22.11.2022