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Almost all children have had a rotavirus infection by the time they are five years of age. Some adults in contact with infected infants catch the virus but may not have symptoms. Children who have been infected once can get infected again. In Canada, rotavirus infections are more common in the winter months. Outbreaks in childcare centres are common. As more children get immunized, the rates of rotavirus will go down. 

Rotavirus is spread if people with the virus do not wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Dirty hands can quickly spread rotavirus by touching people, food, drinks, or objects such as sinks, taps, toys and other things in the environment. That’s why frequent hand washing, cleaning the environment and getting infants vaccinated are the keys to prevention.

    Rotavirus is a vaccine-preventable disease

    Rotavirus vaccine is provided free to healthy babies at 2 and 4 months of age as part of routine immunization. The vaccine is given by mouth. A few drops of liquid vaccine will be placed into a baby’s mouth to swallow. The vaccine prevents about 3 out of 4 cases of rotavirus disease and almost all severe cases, including hospitalizations. Rotavirus vaccine is not recommended for babies older than 8 months of age.


    • fever (usually the first sign)
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea for 4 to 8 days
    • stomach ache
    • dehydration

    Children and staff at the child care centre or school, who are sick with vomiting or diarrhea, should stay at home until 2 days after their symptoms go away.


    It is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Some children with dehydration may need to be treated in hospital.

    What to do if your child has rotavirus at home

    • If another child has rotavirus, watch your child for signs of rotavirus infection.
    • If your child becomes ill with rotavirus, watch for Signs of Dehydration.
    • Wash your hands and your child’s hands after changing a diaper or using the toilet, and before preparing or eating food.

    When to call your doctor or 811

    • Call your doctor right away if you think your child may be dehydrated.