In a hospital study rotavirus was identified in 51% of 152 children with diarrhoea. These patients showed a clinical pattern that was distinct from patients in whom the diarrhoea was associated with bacteria, other viruses, or no pathogens. A respiratory illness was described in 66% of rotavirus patients and usually preceded the gastrointestinal symptoms. Vomiting lasted between one and 3 days and was curtailed by substituting the normal diet with clear fluids. Watery diarrhoes continued for 4 or 5 days, even when rehydration was by the intravenous rather than the oral route. Prolonged diarrhoea was rare. Most children infected with rotavirus were under 2 years of age, but dehydration was most severe in infants aged between 12 and 18 months. A clinician can thus recognise the rotavirus syndrome and expect spontaneous recovery if adequate rehydration is maintained for a critical few days.
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