Human Rotavirus

Virus, Non-Enveloped

VirusHuman Rotavirus
GenomeDouble stranded RNA
Primary HostHumans
Disease(s) CausedGastroenteritis
SymptomsNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever
Potential ComplicationsSevere dehydration
Transmission ModeFecal-oral, contact with contaminated fomites
Sites of Community OutbreaksHospitals, daycares, schools, nursing homes

Importance of Human Rotavirus

Human rotavirus is a non-enveloped member of the Reoviridae family. Seven serogroups for this virus exist. Serogroup A is responsible for the majority of infections with B and C responsible for sporadic outbreaks.

Rotavirus is a significant cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children around the world. In 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that 453,000 children died as a result of rotavirus infection, accounting for around 5% of all child deaths. Most infections occur in children aged 6 months to 2 years old.

Rotavirus infection results in watery diarrhea and vomiting, along with fever and abdominal pain. During this period, dehydration can occur if fluids are not adequately replaced. Symptoms generally persist for 3-8 days.

Importance of Disinfection: Survival of Rotavirus on Surfaces and Potential for Transmission via Fomites

As a non-enveloped virus, rotavirus is resistant to environmental factors such as humidity and temperature. Rotavirus has been found to remain infectious on a metal surface for at least 2 months at a variety of temperatures and humidity levels. Rotavirus can be difficult to inactivate. In one study, only 9 out of 27 disinfectants tested were shown to demonstrate a 99.9% reduction in rotavirus dried onto stainless steel carriers. These disinfectants included 2% glutaraldehyde, some quaternary ammonium compounds combined with either alcohol or acid, phenols with a surfactant, iodine with at least 10,000 ppm free iodine, and chlorine based disinfectants with at least 20,000 ppm free chlorine.

Rotavirus is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. The virus is shed in feces for up to 3 days after the patient has recovered from infection. A key way that rotavirus is spread is when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth. Surfaces likely to be contaminated include infected individuals' hands, doorknobs, sinks, toilets, and faucets. In daycares, up to 19% of surfaces were found to be contaminated with rotavirus during an outbreak.

There are currently two vaccines available for rotavirus. These vaccines became available in 2006 worldwide and have proven effective, reducing hospitalizations and deaths significantly. However, unvaccinated people are still at risk, making effective disinfection key to disease prevention.

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