Rotavirus is an infection that can cause severe stomach illness (gastroenteritis).
What is rotavirus?
Rotavirus is an infection that can cause severe stomach illness (gastroenteritis). Almost all children will have at least one rotavirus infection before they are five years of age. It is the most common cause of diarrhea and hospitalization for diarrhea in children under age five.
How is rotavirus spread?
Rotavirus is easily spread through contact with stool (bowel movement) of an infected child. For example the virus can be spread through contact with unwashed hands of caregivers changing diapers of an infected child or the hands of the infected child. The virus is often spread in child care settings, where the virus can live for days on toys and surfaces if not cleaned properly.
What are the symptoms of rotavirus?
Symptoms usually start one to three days after a child has been infected with the virus. Symptoms include:
- Large amounts of watery diarrhea
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth and dehydration
What are the risks of rotavirus?
Diarrhea caused by Rotavirus usually lasts between four to eight days, but can last longer. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration and hospitalization in babies and young children. It can result in death if not treated.
How can I prevent my child getting rotavirus?
The best way for your child not to get rotavirus is for them to get immunized. The rotavirus vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When your child gets immunized you help protect other children as well.
Who should get the rotavirus vaccine?
It is recommended that all babies get the rotavirus vaccine. The vaccine is given by putting a few drops into the baby’s mouth to swallow. It is given free (publicly funded) as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule. It is given as a series of three doses and the full series is needed for best protection.
Get immunized against rotavirus by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.
To book an immunization appointment with Public Health:
Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906 or 604-702-4840
Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
Note: When making an appointment with Public Health, you will be offered a text message reminder through the ImmunizeBC text message reminder system.
What should I do if my child gets rotavirus?
For more information about rotavirus and the rotavirus vaccine, go to:
- Immunize Canada: Diseases and vaccines
Learn more about diseases that can be prevented by routine immunizations.
- ImmunizeBC: Rotavirus
Information about rotavirus and the rotavirus vaccine.
- HealthLink BC: Rotavirus
Overview of rotavirus, what causes it, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
- HealthLink BC: Rotavirus vaccine
Rotavirus information available in English, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.
- B.C. Centre for Disease Control: Rotavirus
Information for the general public and health professionals on rotavirus and the rotavirus vaccine.
- Caring for Kids: Rotavirus
Information for parents from Canada’s paediatricians.