HCS/330: Introduction to Health and Disease
June 11, 2010
Culture and Disease: Rotavirus
First-time parents anticipate changing plenty of dirty diapers, however they may never consider that a minor problem like diarrhea can land them and their infant in an emergency room. Mothers and fathers can be shocked to discover that rotavirus is one of the main causes of severe diarrhea cases in babies and youth in the United States. Rotavirus is responsible for the yearly hospitalization of 55,000 young persons according to annual reports (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2003). Many rotavirus cases diagnosed are potentially fatal and call for extended hospital stay. The sight of an infant or tot attached to an IV drip to replenish hydration lost by rotavirus is enough to leave parents feeling powerless and terrified. Despite the fact that almost all children will contract rotavirus before ever attending school, it is disturbing that a large number of mothers and fathers have little or no knowledge of the disease. Description of Rotavirus
According to Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, and Jacqueline (2009), “The name rotavirus comes from the Latin word "rota" for wheel and is given because the viruses have a distinct wheel-like shape” (Carson-DeWitt, Davidson, & Jacqueline, 2009). Rotavirus groups A to F have been thoroughly researched and results show that only groups A, B, and C occur in viral cases of humans. Group A is the most common strain of rotavirus in humans. However, group B is responsible for causing pandemic outbreaks in the adult population in China. Group C is not as commonly found in human beings. Indications of rotavirus consist of fever, nausea, and diarrhea that can happen at various intervals during a 24 hour period, sometimes lasting for a few days to over a week. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting triggered by rotavirus may also cause severe dehydration (Carson-DeWitt et al., 2009). Risk Factors That Make Young Children Vulnerable to Rotavirus Infants, toddlers, and youth under the age of 5 lack the immunity necessary to fight certain infections. Therefore, they are most susceptible to rotavirus than adults. Four out of five children under age 5 in the U.S. will become infected with rotavirus diarrhea (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2003). Most rotavirus cases happen before a child reaches his or her second or third birthday. Persons of all ages may be infected by rotavirus, but youth over age 5 years of age, adolescents, and adults tend to experience milder forms of the virus. Even so, they may still transmit rotavirus to vulnerable babies, toddlers, and youth in the lower age ranges. Rotavirus also maintains a seasonal path of occurrence, with yearly outbreaks happening starting in November and ending around April the following year. The occurrence of rotavirus is at its peak in cold temperatures with an 80% infection rate in winter (Carson-DeWitt et al., 2009). Rotavirus is a prevailing problem in day-care facilities. If hygienic measures are not taken, it can also spread to hospital neo-natal units, pediatric clinics, and other health care facilities treating children. Environmental Factors in Rotavirus
As an infectious disease, rotavirus is extremely resistant to the atmosphere in which it thrives. Rotavirus can persist in water for weeks and is impervious to most sanitizers and decontaminators. Rotavirus is usually transmitted by contact with contagious matter like fecal to oral contact but it can also be conducted through respiratory fluids and contact with matter that has been infected by a person with the virus, like food, water, and toys (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2003). High rates of infection are prevalent even in the most hygienic environment. The frequency of rotavirus cases is comparable in both developed and under-developed nations, which implies that disparities in environmental sanitation and...