Rotavirus: The Hidden Killer


Rota virus causing severe diarrheal diseasegenerally attacks the infants. According to its appearance of wheel, the virus is called ‘Rota’ where Rota means wheel. Comparing to other deadly diseases like Hepatitis B or C, this virus hasn’t less significance. Children who are under 5 years are at the major risk as a statistics done by World Health Organization (WHO) shows that around 527,000 children die each year globally and hospitalized more children than the death number. It is noticeable that rate of mortality is very devastating till now, although the virus was discovered more than four decades ago. Four scientists,Ian Holmes, RuthBishop, Geoffrey Davidson and Brian Ruck discovered Rota virus in 1973. It was found in the cytoplasm of mature epithelial cells which lines the duodenal villi. The target area of the virus is villi of small intestine. By damaging their transport mechanism, the virus causes severe diarrhea.

Rotavirus is a double stranded (ds) RNA virus has seven groups (A to G). Among those groups, only A, B and C attack human where as others are non infectious for human.As the transmission route of this virus is fecal-oral, touching the contaminated areas and putting hands in the mouth may increase the infections. That’swhy; people have to keep away their babies from contaminated areas.There are some sympthoms to detect the conditions whether a baby is infected or not. These aresunken eyes, cheeks, abdomen, fontanelle of the infants and dry eyes.They are the primary symptoms of the infections. Moreover, severe chronic diarrhea, dehydration can be happened if the situation goes to the worst.
It is evident that no specific treatment has been introduced in order to overcome the Rota virus attack. However, vaccines are invented for preventing the virus attack. The most important thing is that our body is able to build up its own immunity against this virus. Antibody against viral protein 7 and viral protein 4 are important for protection. Besides this, immunoglobulin ‘A’ also works for protection. But the severe thing is the first infection. First infection is so dangerous that doesn’t give the permanent immunity. However, subsequent infections are considered less severe as our immune systems build up in the meantime. But the fact is, although this infection occurs once, re-infection can occur at any age. So, everyone should be aware of Rota virus attack. For this, children must wash their hands with soap or handwash,especially after toileting or diapering. Similarly, parents also must wash their handsduring serving the foods.

Vaccines are the safest way to escape away from this virus attack. Most commonly, two oral, live and attenuated rotavirus vaccines, Rotatrix and RotaTeq are considered comparatively safe and effective against this virus. According to WHO recommendation, these vaccines should be administered in an infant after 6 weeks of age as the first dose.At the same time, DTP vaccination also should be administered.Like many other developing countries, Bangladesh is also at stake of Rota virus emergence.According to the hospital based surveillance, it is estimated that 33% of all diarrhea admissions among under 5 years aged children were due to Rota virus in 2000 to 2006 in Bangladesh.Studies also found that this virus had been spread in rural area mainly and vaccines have enough strength to prevent more than 1 lakh hospitalized patients in Bangladesh. But it is a matter of great disappointment that Rotavirus vaccines has not date after 2014 although this initiative of vaccination camp were taken by the end of 2014 under the National Immunization Program of Bangladesh 2011-2016.Hopefully, this initiative will be started again. Because of, the sooner administering the vaccines in the infants, the better will be rate of mortality of child.

Md. Marufur Rahman Moni, is an undergrad student completing his graduation under dept. of pharmacy East West University, Bangladesh. He can be reached at

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