This article is from the Childhood Vaccinations FAQ, by Lynn Gazis-Sax firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Rotavirus is one of the major causes of gastroenteritis among infants
and small children in most countries. Symptoms are fever, vomiting,
diarrhea, and dehydration, with vomiting and dehydration more common
than with other diarrheas. The illness normally lasts 3-9 days, and
becomes chronic only in immunodeficient children.
Group A rotavirus is a major cause of infant mortality in many parts
of the world. 873,000 infants and children under 5 die per year of
rotavirus in developing countries. Non-group A rotavirus is less
frequent, and is epidemic only in China. In tropical climates,
rotavirus infection occurs year round, while in temperate climates it
is seasonal. Rotavirus can survive for hours on human hands and for
days on inanimate surfaces, and resists common disinfectants.
Rehydration therapy makes death infrequent in developed countries. On
the other hand, it is one of the most common causes of hospitalization
among infants during the winter months. Cecil Textbook of Medicine
estimates that it is responsible for 35-52% of the cases acute
diarrheal illness needing hospitalization in infants and young
children, in US.