Transmission

You can get infected with rotavirus if you get rotavirus particles in your mouth.

This can happen if you

  • put your unwashed hands that are contaminated with poop into your mouth
  • touch contaminated objects or surfaces then put your fingers in your mouth
  • eat contaminated food

People who are infected with rotavirus shed the virus in their stool (poop). This is how the virus gets into the environment and can infect other people. People shed rotavirus the most, and are more likely to infect others, when they have symptoms and during the first 3 days after they recover. People with rotavirus can also infect others before they have symptoms.

Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children.

They can spread rotavirus to family members and other people with whom they have close contact. Children are most likely to get rotavirus in the winter and spring (January through June).

Good hygiene like handwashing and cleanliness are important, but are not enough to control the spread of the disease. Rotavirus vaccination is the best way to protect your child from rotavirus disease.

Children, even those who are vaccinated, may get infected and sick from rotavirus more than once. That is because neither natural infection with rotavirus nor vaccination provides full protection from future infections. Children who are not vaccinated usually have more severe symptoms the first time they get rotavirus disease. Vaccinated children are less likely to get sick from rotavirus.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019