Among the most common causes for a child’s death all around the globe has been diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Prior to the advent of a rotavirus vaccine, the virus had resulted in 400,000 visits to the doctor and close to 500,000 deaths of children (below five years of age) per year; most of these children belonged to developing countries. The virus targets infants of a particular age group (3 months – 2 years). Infants who live in day care and are not breastfed adequately become predisposed to the condition.
Causative agents and symptoms of the virus
Being a double-stranded RNA virus that belongs to reovirus family, rotavirus can only be studied under an electron microscope. Furthermore, the virus has a wheel shape, due to which it is known as rota – the Latin for wheel. Different species as well as subtypes of Rotavirus have been formed, which are known for affecting the digestive system of humans.
Some common symptoms of rotavirus are:-
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
The rotavirus is transmitted when the waste of an infected person enters the mouth of an individual – fecal-oral route. Such instances easily occur through objects (toys) and contamination of hands. Owing to such reasons the virus spreads quickly among children. In some cases, the virus is transmitted to people coming in close contact with the infected child.
The virus is resilient and fatal as even the standard hygiene measures such as washing hands or drinking clean water will not be able to control it.
The rotavirus children can be cured with the help of a vaccine (administered on babies in two doses). With the advent of a vaccine for rotavirus, the cases of infection have fallen dramatically. In the development of rotavirus vaccine India vaccine laboratories have played a crucial role.