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Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children, and is one of several viruses that cause infections often called stomach flu, despite having no relation to influenza. It is a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae. By the age of five, nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once. However, with each infection, immunity develops, and subsequent infections are less severe; adults are rarely affected. There are five species of this virus, referred to as A, B, C, D, and E. Rotavirus A, the most common, causes more than 90% of infections in humans.
The virus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. Although rotavirus was discovered in 1973 and accounts for up to 50% of hospitalisations for severe diarrhoea in infants and children, its importance is still not widely known within the public health community, particularly in developing countries. In addition to its impact on human health, rotavirus also infects animals, and is a pathogen of livestock.
Rotavirus is usually an easily managed disease of childhood, but worldwide nearly 500,000 children under five years of age still die from rotavirus infection each year and almost two million more become severely ill. In the United States, before initiation of the rotavirus vaccination programme, rotavirus caused about 2.7 million cases of severe gastroenteritis in children, almost 60,000 hospitalisations, and around 37 deaths each year. Public health campaigns to combat rotavirus focus on providing oral rehydration therapy for infected children and vaccination to prevent the disease.
This text uses material from Wikipedia and is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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