Rotavirus can cause gastrointestinal infections (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). It is most common in very young children.

This infectious disease leads to inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Symptoms of rotavirus disease include fever, nausea, vomiting and severe, watery diarrhoea. Rotavirus infections are common in the Netherlands, especially in young children between 6 months and 2 years old. 

What is a rotavirus infection?

A rotavirus infection is caused by an infectious disease that leads to inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Almost every child has a rotavirus infection before the age of five.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of rotavirus disease include fever, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea. After exposure, it takes about 2 days for symptoms to appear. The symptoms last 4 to 6 days. Sometimes a child has to go to hospital to be treated for dehydration symptoms. It is possible for people to contract the disease more than once, but after the first infection they will have a less severe course of illness. It is also possible for a person to be infected with the rotavirus without showing any symptoms.

Rotavirus transmission and infection

The rotavirus is found in the stool (faeces, more commonly referred to as poop) of a person who is infected. The infected person is contagious from the moment they develop symptoms. They remain contagious for about a week.

How to prevent rotavirus infection

Good hygiene helps prevent the disease from spreading. A rotavirus vaccine is available. In September 2022, the state secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) followed the advisory opinion of the Health Council (2021) and decided to start offering rotavirus vaccination to all new-borns in the Netherlands. The aim is to include this vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme in 2024. Until then, the vaccination is available at your own expense and can only be obtained on prescription through a doctor or your GP, and through some Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) or vaccination centres. The rotavirus vaccination is not an injection, but an oral vaccine. More information about the rotavirus vaccination.

How common is rotavirus disease?

About 3,500 children are admitted to hospital due to rotavirus disease every year. Most of these children are between 6 months and 2 years old. Children who are particularly vulnerable have a higher risk of a serious course of illness. This includes children who are born prematurely or have a low birth weight. About 6 or 7 children in this group die every year due to rotavirus disease.