Stop rotaviruses

Stop rotaviruses

Alicja Mażarska-Pazio, M.D. (paediatrician-neonatologist, neonatology coordinator at the Obstetrics Department at the Damian Hospital)

Rotaviruses are the leading cause of morbidity in children under five years of age, and are a common cause of hospitalisation for children. Rotaviruses are highly infectious microorganisms which lead to infection of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines).

A rotavirus infection can lead to severe or potentially life-threatening dehydration. The most effective method of preventing diseases caused by rotaviruses is preventive vaccination.

Who is most vulnerable to rotavirus infection?

Almost every child in the world will be infected with rotavirus before the age of five. According to European data, most cases take place in the first two years of life.

In Poland, there were 33,944 cases of rotavirus reported in 2015, of which 92.9% were hospitalised cases. Not all rotavirus cases are reported (especially those treated on an outpatient basis or at home).


A child may become infected with rotavirus by direct contact with:

  • an infected person (child or adult)
  • a person who carries the virus on their hands
  • infected objects (such as door handles or toys)

Rotaviruses can survive on hands for more than 4 hours, and on objects (such as toys) for 10 days. An increased risk of contracting a disease caused by rotaviruses can occur in hospital wards: neonatal and paediatric wards, as well as in nursery schools and kindergartens.


The main symptoms of the disease include:

  • vomiting, often violent, lasting approx. 2 days
  • watery diarrhoea for 4-8 days
  • fever, up to 40°C

Infants and small children may experience up to 20 episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting during the day.


Infected child:

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhoea can cause dehydration of the child and the need to stay in hospital to receive an intravenous fluid drip.
  • The most serious form of rotavirus infection can occur in infants under six months of age.


  • Parents experience high amounts of stress due to the symptoms of rotavirus infections, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, which are exhausting for the child. The illness of a child infected with a rotavirus can disrupt the functioning of the entire family.


The most effective form of preventing rotaviruses is preventive vaccination.

In Poland, vaccinations against rotaviruses are recommended as part of the Preventive Vaccination Plan. There are two oral rotavirus vaccines available in Poland.

One requires 2 doses. The second requires 3 doses. The vaccine can be administered to infants after six weeks of age. The whole course of vaccination should be completed in the first few months of the child’s life.

The safety and effectiveness of rotavirus vaccines have been confirmed by clinical studies in infants in many countries around the world. The most common temporary side effects of vaccination are gastro-intestinal disorders, fever and irritability.

Ask your paediatrician about oral vaccinations for rotavirus infections.


Yes. The effectiveness of rotavirus vaccines has been confirmed by clinical studies. These were some of the largest studies in the history of vaccination. These studies have shown high efficacy of vaccination in the prevention of rotavirus diarrhoea, especially severe diarrhoea, and hospitalisation due to dehydration as a result of diarrhoea and vomiting. Vaccinations protect against infections caused by the most common strains of rotavirus, which are responsible for most cases in Europe.


Vaccines protect against the disease for at least three years after vaccination - as shown by the studies.

Protection is particularly important for the youngest children, who are most susceptible to severe rotavirus infections.

Damian Medical Centre
Obstetrics Department
Al. Rzeczypospolitej 5
Tel. 660 567 813


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