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May 2010, Volume 40 Number 5 , p 56 - 56


  • Michelle Snow MSPH, MSHR, BSN, RN


ONE OF SEVERAL viruses known to cause gastroenteritis, rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children and causes about 600,000 deaths worldwide each year.1 In the United States, rotavirus is responsible for about 272,000 ED visits among children under age 5 annually. Adults are infected by rotavirus, but they're often asymptomatic or less severely affected.2Rotavirus infects the cells of the small intestinal villi. Because these cells play a role in carbohydrate digestion and the absorption of fluid and electrolytes in the intestines, rotavirus infections lead to malabsorption by impaired hydrolysis of carbohydrates and excessive fluid loss from the intestine. The virus is most active from December through May in the United States and year-round in many developing countries. Because rotavirus is primarily transmitted via the fecal-oral route, the most significant risk factor for rotavirus infection in children is participation in group daycare.2The

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