Monsoons bring with themselves a slew of infections, amongst them are gut infections and these include viral infections like Rotavirus, Salmonella or Typhoid infections and other infections that come out of eating and drinking contaminated food and contaminated water. Dr. Om Srivastav, Director, Department of Infectious diseases, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai talks about rotavirus and how it affects all age group.
Rotavirus, as the name suggests, is a viral infection that goes through the faeco-oral route which means food affected by the virus is consumed by healthy individuals who demonstrate the infection.
The treatment of Rotavirus infection is supportive but crucially is must be commenced early so that complications do not occur. The loss of volume of body fluids is accompanied by loss of key electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium.
These lead to profound fatigue, severe muscle weakness, pseudo and partial obstruction of the intestine and in severe cases heart conduction abnormalities and convulsions. Low blood sugars and altered mental behaviour are also seen when these abnormalities are not corrected in the early part of the infection.
The introduction of vaccines has made a dramatic impact on the outcomes of rotaviral infections. In the developed world the use of vaccines over last 20 years has reduced the mortality with rotaviral infections from 35-40 percent to single-digit figures, and this has been one of the biggest accomplishments of the vaccine program.
Unfortunately, the biggest burden of rotaviral infections remains clustered in the developing world where sanitation, water contamination and public health hygiene while continually improving due to efforts of the World Health Organization and United Nations are still work in progress and continue to have pockets of self-limiting outbreaks from time to time. The best measures, therefore, are preventive including vaccination and immunisation and public health surveillance to determine the best future strategies of such preventable infections.