Rotavirus Gastroenteritis (RGE)

  • What is rotavirus?

    Rotavirus is a leading cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children. Virtually all children will be infected with rotavirus by the age of 5.1,2

  • What are the symptoms associated with RGE?

    Rotavirus causes a spectrum of illness ranging from asymptomatic infection to severe dehydration resulting from vomiting and diarrhea.2

    Spectrum of Rotavirus Symptoms
    Spectrum of Rotavirus Symptoms

    Symptoms typically include watery diarrhea that can persist for 3 to 7 days, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.2

    It can be difficult to predict which children will have severe disease.3,4 However, the most severe disease typically occurs among infants and children 4 to 23 months of age.1

  • How is rotavirus transmitted?

    Rotavirus is transmitted by the fecal-oral route, both through close person-to-person contact and through fomites (inanimate objects).1

    Hand soaps and other cleaning products may not effectively kill the virus. It is easily spread and can survive on toys and household surfaces for weeks, and on hands for several hours.5,6

  • Which serotypes commonly cause RGE?

    RGE is caused by multiple serotypes (eg, G1P[8], G2P[4], G3P[8], G4P[8], G9P[8], G12P[8]).5,7

    Rotavirus serotype distribution can vary by region and year.5,7

  • What makes the G2 serotype different?

    G2 is genetically distinct from other common rotavirus serotypes.8

    For example, serotypes G1, G3 and G4 are typically associated with protein P[8], while G2 is commonly associated with protein P[4].8

    In other words, G2 strains generally do not share either G or P surface proteins with other common rotavirus G serotypes.8

  • Can someone be reinfected with rotavirus?

    Yes, children can be reinfected with rotavirus several times during their lives. Second infections are most likely to be caused by another G serotype.9

  • Are subsequent infections with rotavirus as severe as the first infection?

    Subsequent infections are generally less severe than the first infection.9

  • What is the incubation period for rotavirus?

    Rotavirus has an estimated incubation period of 1 to 2 days, after which the disease can begin abruptly. Fever and vomiting often precede diarrhea.1

  • How prevalent is rotavirus?

    Before 2006, RGE caused a significant annual burden in the United States.1,10

    RGE: Estimated Burden of Disease in US Children Aged <5 Years1,10

    Spectrum of Rotavirus Symptoms

    ED=emergency department

Disease Information

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CDC Information

CDC=Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

VACC-1140713-0003 12/16
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis among infants and children: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recomm Rep. 2009;58(RR-2):1–25.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rotavirus. In: Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation; 2015:311–324.
3. Van Damme P, Van der Wielen M, Ansaldi F, et al. Rotavirus vaccines: considerations for successful implementation in Europe. Lancet Infect Dis. 2006;6(12):805–812.
4. Clark HF, Offit PA. Vaccines for rotavirus gastroenteritis universally needed for infants. Pediatr Ann. 2004;33(8):536–543.
5. Dormitzer PR. Measles virus (rubeola). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Vol 2. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:1854–1864.
6. Ansari SA, Sattar SA, Springthorpe VS, et al. Rotavirus survival on human hands and transfer of infectious virus to animate and nonporous inanimate surfaces. J Clin Microbiol. 1988;26(8):1513–1518.
7. Dóró R, László B, Martella V, et al. Review of global rotavirus strain prevalence data from six years post vaccine licensure surveillance: Is there evidence of strain selection from vaccine pressure? Infect Genet Evol. 2014;28:446–461.
8. Gentsch JR, Laird AR, Bielfelt B, et al. Serotype diversity and reassortment between human and animal rotavirus strains: implications for rotavirus vaccine programs. J Infect Dis. 2005;192(suppl 1):S146–S159.
9. Velázquez FR, Matson DO, Calva JJ, et al. Rotavirus infection in infants as protection against subsequent infections. N Engl J Med. 1996;335(14):1022–1028.
10. Data available on request from Merck, Professional Services-DAP, WP1-27, PO Box 4, West Point, PA 19486-0004. Please specify information package VACC-1157715-0000 08/15.