Gastroenteritis in children is usually caused by a rotavirus. This highly infectious virus infects the stomach and bowel. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea and the child may have accompanying fever and stomach pain. Typically, outbreaks of the virus occur in nurseries and playgroups, and the virus can easily spread to other children due to poor hygiene. The disease process generally runs its course over 3-5 days. A serious complication is extreme dehydration due to loss of bodily fluids.
From July 2013 a new vaccine called Rotarix, administered via a liquid dropper, can now be offered to all babies, at 2 months and 3 months, as part of their usual NHS vaccination programme. It is expected that the vaccine will protect against 90% of the rotavirus strains.