RotaTeq helps prevent rotavirus, a virus that can cause severe diarrhea in infants and young children. At this time, there are no approved uses of RotaTeq for adults or children older than 32 weeks old; the vaccine has not been adequately studied in these age groups.
What Is RotaTeq Used For?
Rotavirus is a virus that can cause severe diarrhea, usually with fever and vomiting. It is the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children in the United States and worldwide. Before the rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus resulted in the hospitalization of approximately 55,000 to 70,000 children each year in the United States and the death of over 600,000 children annually worldwide.
Large amounts of this virus are shed in the stools of infected people. This contaminated stool can easily spread to hands and objects.
Once the virus has entered the body, it travels to the small intestine, where it begins to multiply. Approximately two days later, symptoms can begin. This period between infection with the rotavirus and the beginning of symptoms is known as the "rotavirus incubation period."
Not all people who are infected with the virus will develop symptoms. If symptoms do occur, the illness begins suddenly. Common rotavirus symptoms include:
- Upset stomach
- High fever (greater than 102.2°F)
- Watery diarrhea
- Severe dehydration
- Loss of interest in eating
- Mucus in stool.
There is no medicine that will kill rotavirus. Therefore, rotavirus treatment goals are focused on providing supportive care while the body fights the infection. Supportive care refers to treating symptoms, such as dehydration, that occur as a result of the rotavirus infection. Fortunately, for people with healthy immune systems, the body is able to effectively kill the virus, and after three to nine days, symptoms usually improve.
Because improved sanitation and hygiene have not decreased rotavirus much in the United States, the best way to protect an infant or child from this infection is through vaccination.