Rotavirus infection is an acute infectious disease mainly affecting children. The main
symptoms are fever, vomiting and diarrhoea and many affected children suffer from extensive fluid loss in need of medical attention. The incubation period is 1-2 days.
Rotaviruses are the single most important cause of severe diarrhoeal illness in infants and young children worldwide. Subsequent rotavirus infections occur throughout life but only rarely require medical attention.
Transmission of rotaviruses mainly occurs from person-to-person through the faecal-oral route, but may also occur through contaminated objects (e.g. door-handles, water-taps, toilet-seats and toys), airborne droplets and contaminated water or food. The infective period is 1-3 weeks.
The disease in children is preventable by vaccines offered in infancy and providing up to three years protection against severe rotavirus disease leading to hospitalisation in most recipients. This is the period when young children are most vulnerable to dehydration.
Read more about rotavirus disease in factsheet for health professionals.