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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury


Huaketo puku

Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis. It's very infectious, meaning it spreads very easily.

Rotavirus is spread if people do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet or changing nappies. You can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus can also be passed on if an infected person prepares food.

You usually get symptoms one to two days after being infected with the virus. The symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting. Some people have a fever and stomach pain. Symptoms can last for three to eight days.

Preventing rotavirus

Vaccination is the best way to prevent rotavirus. Children receive the rotavirus vaccine at six weeks and three months as part of the National Immunisation Schedule.

It is also important to practise good hand hygiene.

Treating rotavirus

There is no medicine for rotavirus. The treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. See the self-care section on our gastroenteritis page for more details.

Getting help for rotavirus

You should see your GP if you have bloody diarrhoea or a fever or if your symptoms have not gone away after seven days. You should also see your GP if you're very unwell or have a weakened immune system.

You should take your child to your GP if they aren't drinking, if they're passing less urine than usual, have a dry mouth or sunken eyes or if they seem drowsy.

Avoiding spreading rotavirus

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, it's important to have good hand hygiene. This includes washing your hands with soap and water, particularly after using the toilet or changing nappies.

Use separate towels and flannels. Wash any infected clothing or bedding separately in hot water. Clean contaminated surfaces and toys with disinfectant. Try to avoid preparing food if you have rotavirus. If you do prepare food, make sure you wash and dry your hands well first. Follow this food safety advice.

Stay away from work, community gatherings and school or preschool until you or your child have been free of symptoms for 48 hours. This includes the last time you had diarrhoea.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2022.


See also:

Diarrhoea & vomiting (gastroenteritis)

Diarrhoea & vomiting in children (gastroenteritis)

Eating and drinking when you're unwell

Page reference: 49721

Review key: HIGTE-81185