Last Updated on October 11, 2018 by Suzy McCullough

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. I am predominantly a family travel blogger and while I do cover other subjects I don’t do it very often. However, I wanted to make other families aware of Rotavirus and to make sure that your child is vaccinated so that you don’t have to go through similar.

Our son was born in France. We moved back to the UK when he was 18 months old so by this time he had already had most of his vaccines. His equivalent of the British red book is all in French and this is what I had to present as ‘evidence’ of his vaccines. If you’ve ever seen the handwriting of a French person you will know that mixed with the confusing handwriting that comes with being a doctor most of what was written about him was illegible. Because of this nothing was ever said to us that he hadn’t been vaccinated against Rotavirus!

Rotavirus vaccine

“It is an oral vaccine against rotavirus infection, a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness and is given in two doses for babies aged 8 and 12 weeks. The vaccine is given as a liquid straight into the baby’s mouth for them to swallow.”

What is Rotavirus

“Rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that typically strikes babies and young children, causing an unpleasant bout of diarrhoea, sometimes with vomitingtummy ache and fever. Most children recover at home within a few days, but nearly 1 in 5 will need to see their doctor, and 1 in 10 of these end up in hospital as a result of complications such as extreme dehydration. Since its introduction into the vaccination programme, the rotavirus vaccine has prevented more than 70% of cases.”

So even if he had had the vaccine he may not have escaped contracting the virus but perhaps it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was. Apparently, most children will contract Rotavirus in their younger years but many will show no symptoms. Adults can also be carriers but won’t suffer the same as a child. Sadly our child got it so bad that he ended up in hospital three times. I’m sure his third, longer visit, could have been avoided by him being put on a saline drip after his second admission.

How Rotavirus Started – Rotavirus Symptoms

Obviously, when our son became ill we didn’t know what was wrong. He woke up one day seemingly fine. The next thing I knew he’d walked over to see me getting out of bed and complained that he’d drunk too much water the night before. The next minute he was being violently and repeatedly sick over myself, the bed and the floor. After a night spent with no problems, it was a strange and unexpected thing to happen.

I gave him some water to drink and a bowl to keep with himself. He was sick numerous times over the following hour. He was not keeping his water down and this concerned me. I rang the doctors and explained what was wrong. They asked to see him and we were booked in just before lunch. He had rapidly declined by now and could barely move. The nurse saw him and was luckily also very concerned. She managed to get him a bed at our nearest hospital so that we could bypass A&E. She changed around her other appointments and made time for us while we sat in her room and I am so thankful for that.

Once at the hospital, they observed our son and although clearly exhausted he wasn’t sick again. They gave him a dioretic which he was keeping down. They even allowed him a couple of biscuits. I was concerned that they didn’t leave things long enough before discharging him but we left the hospital after a few hours. Within 30 seconds of being in the car, he was violently sick again. We immediately took him back in and he was re-admitted.

They carried out more observations and by now it was getting late and he was exhausted. He could barely stay awake. The doctor said that they could put him on a drip but he didn’t think it was necessary and that it would stress him out too much. I was concerned he wasn’t taking in enough fluids as it was now so late but they said we could leave and he would be OK.  They had eliminated anything ‘bad’ via blood tests and although they were unsure what was wrong they were happy that he was going to be OK and would improve.

Our son contracted Rotavirus - What Is Rotavirus

That night at home he slept for around 13 hours. I could barely rouse him in the morning. He was so lethargic. Throughout the day I struggled to keep him awake. This was not good news as he needed to be drinking fluids. He was literally collapsing asleep anywhere and everywhere, even on the floor! Something wasn’t right. Mother’s instinct told me he wasn’t right. Just because he wasn’t being sick anymore didn’t mean that he was getting better.

Our son contracted Rotavirus - What Is Rotavirus

I rang the hospital and they were very concerned for his well-being and asked me to ring an ambulance. I did so through tears and they came during England’s final match during the World Cup. He was assessed and his stats were luckily OK. He just had a slight temperature and they were talking about wanting to rule out Sepsis etc. but thought he was perhaps severely dehydrated.

Back at the hospital he was put on observations and woke to be sick everywhere and the other end as well. I had to clean up my own son while they just stood there and offered no help! Because he was poorly from the other end they were able to take a sample. This later revealed that he had Rotavirus and that we would probably get it as well. I was shocked, how is this a thing? It was then that they informed us that he probably wasn’t vaccinated in France. He was by now extremely dehydrated which was why he was so lethargic.

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Rotavirus Treatment

Not all children will be hospitalised but this is the treatment they gave our son for rotavirus. They put him on a saline drip and also gave him some antibiotics. After a night’s sleep on the drip, he seemed to perk up slightly by the morning and was allowed home that evening, almost 24 hours after we’d arrived for the third time. Dehydration is very serious in children and I dread to think what may have happened to him had he not been readmitted that day. I regret not pushing for the drip that first night because he wouldn’t have gone downhill so fast.

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If you see any of these signs in your child please don’t be afraid to take them to the hospital. If they are running a really high temperature it could be sepsis and that is something that can’t be ignored. We were lucky that it was Rotavirus and not sepsis but apparently, he is now likely to contract it again!

If he is ever poorly again I will push more for help and I certainly won’t worry about taking him to hospital being the wrong thing to do. Children are so much more fragile than us and things affect them differently. It is also highly contagious so please make sure your children are kept well away from others until at least 2-3 days after their last passing or sickness or diarrhoea.

Thanks for reading. He has been completely fine since and we are crossing everything that he never contracts Rotavirus again. It breaks my heart to look at these photos and remember how poorly he was and how helpless and scared I felt.

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