Kids Healthworks
family matters
first aid
show categories

Looking for a show topic?



ITV American Academy of Pediatrics Discovery Health Channel

TV Show Excerpt - Rotavirus

The following excerpt is from the original transcript of the Kids Healthworks television series, episode 103.

Welcome to Kids Healthworks. I'm Wendy Rutledge. Kids: we want them to grow up to be healthy, happy adults. But, this road to wellness has its share of bumps. Today, we look at health issues that will affect millions of kids through the years. We begin with a common illness that can create big problems for babies.

For any parent, few things are as stressful as a trip to the emergency room. Now, imagine being told your infant has a virus you've never heard of. Millions of parents deal with a mysterious sounding illness that is actually more common than you think. Rotavirus: it strikes nearly every child before the age of four, and ultimately kills more than one thousand children a day worldwide. In the United States, approximately thirty children die every year. In the U.S., rotavirus is the number one cause of severe diarrhea among children. But when this mother of three had to take two of her children to the emergency room the same weekend, she had never even heard of rotavirus.


The daycare called me at work, and asked me to come and pick Ryan up because he had thrown up twice and he was kind of listless. He's had flu and colds before, but this was pretty serious.

Ryan, who was four years old at the time, was hospitalized for three days so that intravenous lines could counter the affects of dehydration. A day after he was admitted, his sister Amira, began having the same problems. Because it's very contagious, doctors had predicted this. It's been found that children can spread rotavirus both before and after they have symptoms.

Despite our best efforts, young children will not wipe or they'll do something and immediately put their fingers in their mouth.

In any emergency room, it's the issue of fluid loss that is critical.


Here in the emergency room, patients come in and they are evaluated by our triage nurse, and their degree of hydration or dehydration is assessed. And the nurses are looking at not only their vital signs, but how many wet diapers they've made in the last twenty-four hours, how well they're drinking, if they're drinking, if they're lethargic, if their mouths are dry, and that will give the triage nurse some idea of how sick they are.

Kids who experience the most problems with rotavirus diarrhea are usually ages three to 35 months old. Illness from rotavirus usually starts with a fever, an upset stomach, and vomiting, followed by diarrhea. The diarrhea can be mild to severe and generally will last three to nine days. Doctors say the virus is seasonal, which means most cases of rotavirus occur between November and May.


In the United States, it begins to occur in the Southwest in fall and then it sort of marches across the country ending up in the Northeast in late winter, early spring. The reason people haven't heard of rotavirus is, unlike, say, strep throat, where the doctor actually tests for it, does a culture, and says, oh, your child has strep, routinely, it isn't tested for.

Doctor Margaret Rennels, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has done a great deal of research on rotavirus. Because it's so common and hard to prevent, she says it's important parents and caregivers know how to treat the symptoms.

Bring the fever down to make the child more comfortable. The most important thing is make sure the child does not get dehydrated. If indeed they can't get their child to drink, and they think that their child's becoming dehydrated, then they need to go to the emergency room.


Q: How can too much sugar affect a child's health?

A: Too much sugar and too little exercise has been linked to adult-onset diabetes in children. Since one of the biggest culprits is soft drinks, dieticians recommend giving kids water instead of soda. Other tips include; diluting juice to half water and after the age of two years switch to low fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. You can also limit red meat to three times per week. Give them fruits and vegetables - or even cheese and crackers - as a snack instead of chips or other junk food.