Rotavirus is caused by a specific type of virus. It spreads through the stool of someone with the infection. The infected stool can pass the virus to hands, surfaces, objects, food, or water. The virus then enters the body when any of these infected items come in contact with the mouth.

Risk Factors

Rotavirus is more common in children who are 4 months to 2 years of age. Children in childcare settings are at higher risk.



Problems vary from person to person and may be mild to severe. Problems may be:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Belly pain


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. A stool sample may be taken to identify the virus.



Most people get better on their own in 3 to 8 days. The goal is to manage symptoms and promote healing. Choices are:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids or an oral rehydration solution
  • Anti-nausea medicine
  • Probiotics or zinc supplements to reduce the duration and severity of diarrhea


There is a vaccine to prevent rotavirus in babies. It is given as 2 or 3 doses between the ages of 2 to 6 months.

The risk of viral infection may also be lowered by:

  • Practicing proper handwashing, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Not touching the mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are infected

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.