There are ways to keep Rotavirus from making its way through the house, and infecting the entire family.
What is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is a specific and highly contagious virus that causes diarrhea children. The diarrhea can last up to two weeks. Rotavirus also causes vomiting and high fevers. Rotavirus can be so severe that children can quickly become dehydrated and need hospitalization.
Normal precautions of providing Pedialite or sports drinks, clear liquids, and other water-based foods are not always effective in combating the Rotavirus. Rotavirus sends 55,000 U.S. children to the hospital each year. (CDC)
Adults and older children may also contract Rotavirus, but it manifests itself more like a 24-hour bug than a two-week bout of diarrhea.
What makes this virus so virulent is that it is “stable in the environment.” This means it can live on surfaces outside the body, unlike other viruses.
No matter how diligent a parent is about cleanliness and what their children touch, and their hygiene, Rotavirus can still make its way to infect children. Children touch everything. When they touch an object that has feces from a Rotavirus-infected person and then touch their mouth or even their face, they can become infected.
Another aspect of this virus that makes it especially alarming to parents is that children can become re-infected with the Rotavirus.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family
When one person in the family has caught Rotavirus parents need to be super diligent in their clean up, hand washing, laundry, food preparation, and trash related duties.
Once a determination of Rotavirus has been made, through a laboratory test of the child’s fecal matter, it is important to keep the child from getting reinfected, and to keep the rest of the family healthy and free ofRotavirus.
This sounds easier than it is. A child could be going through the vomiting and diarrhea stage of the virus. That combination happens early on and can be messy and last for 24 to 48 hours or more.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Preparation Parents will need to be prepared to do a quick and sanitary clean up of the child, the child’s clothes, any furniture or solid surfaces that were affected, and sometimes, of their own clothes, if they were in the middle of the action.
Anyone involved in changing the diapers and soiled clothes of the child infected with the virus needs to make sure to properly dispose of any soiled diapers and wipes immediately and safely.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Layer the Diapering Area It is useful to set up the diapering area with layers of tossable diapering pads, old infant blankets, or even towels. That way after the child has his or her diaper changed, the whole mess can be easily removed to the trash or the laundry, one layer at a time.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Double Diaper
If possible, use a pair of plastic diaper pants to fit over baby’s diaper. The diarrhea caused by the virus will be fast and furious, and can easily make its way up baby’s back and clothes. If plastic diaper pants are not available, try double-diapering the baby. Use a regular diaper that fits the baby. Then cover that up with a pull-up type diaper the next size up. This will give the baby double protection against making a mess on himself or herself, and reduce the chances of re-infection and of infecting other family members.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Non-Latex Gloves
Parents may also want to arm themselves with some non-latex gloves. A box retails for under $10, and can be the best defense against direct contact with any fecal matter. The reason non-latex gloves are preferable to latex gloves is because this is no time to discover a baby’s latex allergy.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Plastic Bags
Keeping plastic bags near the diaper changing area also gives parents and caretakers an easy and sanitary way to get rid of the offending diaper and wipes. This is trash that you will want to remove from the interior of the house quickly.
Keep sandwich or quart-sized bags with zippers nearby. Also store some larger plastic bags from the grocery store nearby, but out of baby’s reach.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Diaper Cream
Baby will be incredibly sensitive and may not even let you get near enough to properly medicate the bottom with diaper cream. Using some diaper cream on a wipe or with a latex glove, try to get some on baby’s bottom gently.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Anti-bacterial Hand Soaps and Gel Supply anti-bacterial soaps near all sinks. Anyone changing the diaper or clothes of the baby needs to immediately wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap. Also keep antibacterial or alcohol-based hand cleanser nearby, and by the sink next to the anti-bacterial soap.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Bleach-Based Cleaners
A cleaner with bleach will also be needed to clean any hard surfaces that may have been affected, including floors. Use some bleach-based wipes to clean any toys, and wash soft items like stuffed animals in hot water with color-safe bleach laundry detergent.
How to Keep Rotavirus from Infecting the Entire Family: Layer the Crib
Parents may also want to line the baby’s crib with some extra liners or pads, in case of a late-night diaper blow out. It will be easier to clean up.
Feeding the Child During and After the Rotavirus Infection
Hospital Feeding: IV
For the child who was dehydrated enough to become hospitalized, their first nutrients will come in the form on an IV.
A baby or toddler can quickly become dehydrated when infected by this virus. If the child is dehydrated, an IV will help re-hydrate and nourish the baby.
Liquid Diet or Nursing
For babies who are still nursing, they should continue to do so even with this virus.
Once the fever breaks and the vomiting has stopped, the doctor will prescribe a liquid diet. The liquid diet can consist of chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, Jell-o gelatin, Italian Ice, Popsicles, Pedialite, Gatorade or juice.
Stay away from citrus juices like orange or grapefruit, which can be acidic. Also avoid cranberry juice, which is a diuretic. Apple juice is okay, but can sometimes be hard on the stomach. The most easy-to-digest juice is white grape, or a white grape juice blend.
Feeding the Child During and After the Rotavirus Infection: Solid Foods
For children who were lucky enough not to become dehydrated, parents will still want to try the liquid diet before moving to solids. Offer the child a combination of any of the liquid diet foods. Be sure to keep the child hydrated.
Offer the child his or her favorite (non-dairy) foods. Include different food groups. Some easily digested foods to offer include bananas, applesauce, plain rice, plain pasta, or un-buttered bread products.
Avoid greasy foods or fat-laden foods like hot dogs and donuts.
Feeding the Child During and After the Rotavirus Infection: No Dairy
The last thing that should be introduced back into the baby’s diet is dairy. This means no milk, or milk based products like ice cream, pudding, or cottage cheese.
Feeding the Child During and After the Rotavirus Infection:
Be extra diligent about wiping and cleaning baby’s hands before they eat. The same goes for food preparation.
Call you child’s doctor if you suspect he or she has been infected with the Rotavirus.