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Learn about rotavirus, who is at risk, and how it spreads.

About rotavirus

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.

  • One in 14 children who get sick with rotavirus need treatment in a hospital.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can cause children to get dehydrated (when the body loses too much water).
  • In rare cases, children can die from being dehydrated.

Learn more about rotavirus.

Who is most at risk?

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.

How it spreads

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.

Current as of: June 30, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
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