Alberta Health Services
Rotavirus is a common infection that causes fever and vomiting (throwing up). It’s usually followed by diarrhea (watery poop). Diarrhea and vomiting caused by rotavirus is also called gastroenteritis.
Learn more about rotavirus.
Children ages 3 months to 2 years have the highest risk of serious infection. Almost all children who don’t get immunized will get the rotavirus infection by age 5 years.
In Canada, rotavirus infections are more common in late winter and early spring. But there is a risk of infection all year long.
Rotavirus spreads through infected stool (poop) when it gets into your mouth from hands, diapers, or things such as change tables or toys.
The virus can live for a long time on surfaces. It can spread before symptoms appear and for up to 3 weeks after symptoms start. Some people don’t have symptoms but can still spread the disease.
Symptoms of rotavirus include fever followed by very bad vomiting and diarrhea that can last up to 1 week. Some children may only have vomiting without diarrhea.
If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, watch them closely because they can become dehydrated very quickly. When your child becomes dehydrated, they can have serious health problems. Learn how to care for your child if they have rotavirus.
Keep your child at home while they are sick and for a few days after they feel better. They may still be able to spread the virus to others after they feel better.
There is no specific treatment for rotavirus.
Children sick with rotavirus may be given fluids orally (by drinking them) or by an intravenous (IV) in a hospital. They may also be given electrolytes orally or through IV to help prevent or treat dehydration.
The rotavirus vaccine (Rot/Rot-5) protects against rotavirus infection. Unlike most vaccines, your child will get the rotavirus vaccine by mouth (instead of with a needle).
To help prevent rotavirus from spreading, wash your hands thoroughly and often. Washing your hands is most important after doing things such as changing diapers or going to the bathroom, and before handling or preparing food.
It’s important to know that even if your child gets sick with rotavirus once, they can still get it again. Immunization against rotavirus is still recommended even if your child has already had rotavirus.