What is rotavirus?

Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. It affects mostly babies and young children. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to serious dehydration (loss of body fluid). If dehydration is not treated, it can be deadly.

What are the symptoms of rotavirus?

Rotavirus causes the following:

  • Fever
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Diarrhea and vomiting may last for 3 to 8 days. Children may stop eating and drinking while they are sick.

Is it serious?

Rotavirus can be very harmful. Diarrhea, vomiting, and fever can all cause a loss of body fluids. This leads to dehydration, which can be very dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Some children need an IV (needle in their vein) in the hospital to replace lost fluids.

How does rotavirus spread?

Rotavirus spreads easily. The virus is in the stool of people who are infected with the virus. It is spread by hands, diapers, or objects like toys, changing tables, or doorknobs that have a small amount of the stool on them. The disease commonly spreads in families, hospitals, and childcare centers.

Rotavirus is a tough virus. It can live on objects for several days unless it is killed by a disinfectant (cleaner that kills germs). But, even with hand washing and cleaning with a disinfectant it is very hard to prevent rotavirus.

What is the burden of rotavirus disease worldover?

Rotaviruses are globally the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in children aged <5 years. In low income countries 80% of primary rotavirus infection occur among infants <1 year old, whereas in high income countries, the first episode may occasionally be delayed until the age of 2–5 years.

How serious is the burden of rotavirus diarrhoea in India?

It is difficult to estimate the impact of rotavirus diarrhea on under-five mortality in India. As per the 2007 update of Indian Rotavirus Strain Surveillance Network (IRSSN), the proportion of diarrheal hospitalizations due to rotavirus was 39% . As per the IRSSN data, rotavirus was estimated to cause approximately 34% or around 113,000 of all diarrheal deaths in under-5 children. Taken together, there was an estimated mortality rate of 4.14 deaths per 1000 live births during 2005 suggesting that approximately 1 in 242 children will die from rotavirus infection before reaching their fifth birthday.

What are the different types of Rotavirus vaccines available in India?

Currently three live oral vaccines are licensed and marketed in India. They include Human monovalent live vaccine (ROTARIX), Human Bovine pentavalent live vaccine (ROTATEQ), and a vaccine based on Indian neonatal strains, 116E (ROTAVAC). All the three vaccines have shown comparable protection against rotavirus disease in clinical trials.

Why should my child get the rotavirus vaccine?

The rotavirus vaccine:

  • Protects your child from rotavirus, a potentially serious disease
  • Prevents your child from developing diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain from rotavirus
  • Keeps your child from missing school or childcare (and keeps you from missing work to care for your sick child)

Is rotavirus vaccine safe?

The rotavirus vaccine is very safe, and it is effective at preventing rotavirus disease. RotaTeq® and Rotarix® were each tested with more than 70,000 volunteers. Millions of babies all over the world have gotten the vaccine safely during routine use.

What are the side effects?

Side effects are rare, usually mild, and may include fussiness, fever, and diarrhea. Some studies have shown a small rise in cases of intussusception within a week after the first or second dose of rotavirus vaccine. Intussusception is a type of bowel blockage that is treated in a hospital. Some babies might need surgery. Studies estimate a risk ranging from about 1 intussusception case in every 20,000 infants to 1 intussusception case in every 100,000 infants after vaccination.


  • Rotavirus and the Vaccine (Drops) to Prevent It. Available from: www.cdc.gov
  • IAP Guidebook on Immunization 2013-14. Available from: www.iapindia.org