Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children.It is a genus of double-stranded RNA viruses in the family Reoviridae. Nearly every child in the world is infected with rotavirus at least once by the age of five.
Immunity develops with each infection, so subsequent infections are less severe; adults are rarely affected. There are eight species of this virus, referred to as A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H. Rotavirus A, the most common species, causes more than 90% of rotavirus infections in humans
The virus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis (which is often called “stomach flu” despite having no relation to influenza). Although rotavirus was discovered in 1973 by Ruth Bishop and her colleagues by electron micrograph images and accounts for approximately one third of hospitalisations for severe diarrhoea in infants and children, its importance has historically been underestimated within the public health community, particularly in developing countries. In addition to its impact on human health, rotavirus also infects animals, and is a pathogen of livestock.