Norovirus and rotavirus

Norovirus and rotavirus

Norovirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in young children. Rotavirus is less common with the use of the vaccine. Because norovirus and rotavirus are both viruses, they will have to run the course. Antibiotics will not work for this disease.

Symptoms of norovirus and rotavirus are:

  • throwing up
  • watery diarrhea
  • fever
  • stomach pain

How to treat norovirus and rotavirus

Your health care provider may suggest you give your child Pedialyte®. This will help return fluids and minerals to your child's body. Follow the instructions for your child's age.

If your child is throwing up, give solution in small amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons every five minutes) until the throwing up stops. Slowly increase the solution according to package instructions.

How to prevent spreading norovirus and rotavirus

Norovirus and rotavirus are passed through stools, poor hand-washing and touching contaminated surfaces. The virus can live for hours on hands and days on objects.

  • Teach your child to wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating. If you have a small child, wash their hands with a small amount of plain soap and water.
  • Teach your child to keep fingers and other objects out of their mouth. If you have a baby who is teething, give them a teething ring or wash their hands often.
  • Request that anyone who comes in contact with your baby or child wash their hands first.
  • Wash toys that come in contact with your child's mouth.

When to call your health care provider

Call your health care provider if your child:

  • shows signs of dehydration:
    • dry mouth
    • no tears when crying
    • sunken eyes
    • lack of urine (or dry diaper for more than eight hours)
    • unusually sleepy or fussy
    • extreme thirst
  • is throwing up and can't keep fluids down for more than 12 hours
  • has bloody diarrhea
  • has a temperature higher than 103 F (by rectum)
  • has stomach pain that doesn't get better
  • The vaccine to prevent rotavirus is recommended at ages 2 and 4 months.
  • There is no vaccine for norovirus.
  • Give your child small amounts of solid food often once they have not thrown up for eight hours.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022