Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Ebola Virus Disease - What You Need To Know

News about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and the increasing death toll are streaming in from all newsrooms. It is sad to read about how many people have so far succumbed to EVD. The government of Kenya has called on its citizens to take necessary precaution to prevent infection. In addition, Kenya is taking many more measures such as closing its borders to travellers from West African countries affected by the growing EVD outbreak. But this is what the government is doing; what about us? Is there anything we need to know or do in order to protect ourselves from getting infected? To be able to fully protect ourselves, we need to understand the disease, its causes, how it is transmitted, its signs and symptoms as well as how to protect ourselves from getting infected.

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a killer disease caused by a virus. The disease which was formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is one of the world’s most virulent diseases with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It was first experienced in 1976 where 2 simultaneous outbreaks occurred in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. In Yambuku, the outbreak occurred near a river called Ebola River, hence the name Ebola. Ebola outbreaks have until recently occurred primarily in remote villages near tropical rainforest in the West and Central African countries. Though the disease is severe and fatal, it can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures such as wearing protective gear while handling sick animals and humans as well as seeking and receiving expert care in an appropriate healthcare facility.

Transmission of Ebola

Unlike the flu, the risk of Ebola transmission is low and can be easily prevented when the right measures are put in place. It spreads through direct contact with wounds and fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, faeces or urine of an infected person. It also spreads through the use of unsterilised needles and skin piercing instruments and directly touching someone who has died of Ebola. It can also spread through indirect contact with environments contaminated with bodily fluids. Men who have recovered from Ebola can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness. Ebola is primarily transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. However, nearly all the current cases of EVD are a result of human-to-human transmission. Although the origin of Ebola is unknown, there is evidence to prove that infections in Africa originated from the handling of infected animals such as fruit bats, gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines.

Signs and Symptoms

It takes between 2 to 21 days from the date of infection, for the symptoms to begin to show. The following are the signs and symptoms of Ebola Virus disease:

Initial signs and symptoms
  1. Sudden onset of fever
  2. Intense weakness
  3. Muscle pain
  4. Headache
  5. Sore throat
Later stages
  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhoea
  3. Rash
  4. Impaired kidney and liver function
  5. In some cases, both internal and external bleeding
  6. Low white blood cell, platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes in the blood
It is important to note that one remains infectious (can spread disease to others) as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus.     Men have been know to carry the virus in their semen for up to 61 days after being cured from Ebola.   


Since there are so many other diseases that present with the same symptoms as Ebola, the doctors will usually exclude all other possibilities before they diagnose Ebola. Such other diseases include: malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, meningitis, hepatitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.

A definite diagnosis is through laboratory findings where the virus is found in the blood through a test called ELISA. There are also other laboratory test that can be performed to diagnose Ebola such as the following:
  1. Antigen detection tests
  2. Serum neutralization test
  3. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
  4. Electron microscopy
  5. Virus isolation by cell culture

It is important to note that even a suspected case of Ebola should be handled with utmost care and safety precautions nevertheless applied to prevent spread of Ebola.

Vaccine and Treatment   

So far, there is no licensed vaccine available to prevent Ebola.

Since it is a viral disease, there is no specific treatment available and care is mainly supportive. Sick patients are given intensive supportive care which includes rehydration, pain management and other relevant supportive care measures. At the health facility, sick persons are closely monitored and put under quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease and increase their chances of survival.

It is important that all sick or suspected cases of Ebola are immediately taken to a health care facility. With appropriate care, chances of survival are up to 47%. However, these chances are next to nil if the sick persons are not taken to a health facility, not to mention the risk of spreading it to others.

You Are at Risk If

  1. You come into direct contact with body fluids such as blood, saliva, vomits, urine, and other secretions from an infected person. This may occur while caring for an infected person at home or at a health facility. Healthcare workers are at the top of the list of persons at risk.
  2. You are involved in cleaning and dressing the body of a person who has died of Ebola.
  3. You are a mourner who gets into direct contact with the body of a person who has died of Ebola as part of burial rituals or ceremony.
  4. You are handling animals infected with Ebola virus such as chimpanzees, gorillas, forest antelopes, monkeys or bats.

Prevention and Control

  1. Ebola can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with body fluids, blood, saliva, vomit, urine and stool of an infected person by wearing protective equipment such as masks, gowns, goggles and gloves. Ensure all parts of your body are completely covered by the protective material.
  2. It is important that all sick persons are treated in a hospital or treatment centre staffed by doctors and nurses qualified and equipped to treat Ebola virus victims. It is not advisable to take care of an infected person at home as this can greatly reduce their chances of survival as well as increase the spread of Ebola.
  3. Do not touch wounds of an infected person without gloves and other protective materials and do not use skin piercing instruments that have been used on a patient suffering from Ebola.
  4. The body of someone who has died from Ebola can still be infectious if not properly covered. WHO recommends that people who have died from Ebola be handled using appropriate protective equipment and should be buried immediately by public health professionals who are trained in safe burial procedures.
  5. Health workers are at the top of the list of persons at risk of Ebola infection especially during an outbreak. WHO in conjunction with CDC has developed  guidelines to be used in the healthcare setting to prevent infection and spread of Ebola. It is important that health workers access these guidelines and follow them strictly as they are evidence based and can prevent infection and spread of Ebola.
  6. Like many other diseases, handwashing with soap and running water is of essence especially after handling an infected person.
  7. Do not eat monkey meat or handle dead or sickly animals especially in the tropical rainforest.

Attribution: Avallain

Monday, 4 August 2014

Sex After Giving Birth

Pregnancy comes with plenty of physical and emotional changes. For most couples, sex drives decreases during the 3rd trimester as the belly grows big making it difficult to practice comfortable sex positions. Most women also tend to feel unattractive around this time, hence the reduced sex drive. The postnatal period is therefore a period awaited with bated breath for many couples looking forward to get back to their normal sexual life. But when this time comes, most couples find themselves battling with questions such as: when is it safe to start having sex again?; when will my sex drive come back?; what should I look out for?; and are there any tips to help me get through this period?

The question of the ideal time to begin having sex after birth is a very relative one. Besides the fact that we are all different, there is really no set time by when one should aim to start having sex again. A number of women wait till after the 6th week. This gives time for the reproductive organs to regain their physical strength and for vaginal soreness and wounds, such tears, lacerations and episiotomies, to heal. One thing that is important to bear in mind is that the bleeding from your birth canal (lochia) ought to have stopped by the time you begin to have sex again. The lochia usually takes about 3 weeks to clear and indicates that the wound left by the placenta is healed. Having sex before the lochia clears may lead to infection and should therefore be avoided. Your physical and emotional status should also be your key indicators of when you are ready to restart having sex. Ensure that both you and your partner are ready for it before you get to it.

There are a number of reasons that can lead to low sexual drive during the postnatal period. For some women, the thrill of having a new baby and the new responsibility that comes with it takes priority. For others, factors such as fatigue, soreness, hormonal imbalance and fear of pain may keep them away from considering it. In some cases, postnatal depression may cause reduced sexual drive too. Also, some women feel physically unattractive due to the physical changes that come with pregnancy and childbirth. However, all these disappear with time. The soreness may be among the first discomforts to disappear while the pain around the stitches may take a while. It is important that you allow your wound to heal and the stitches to dissolve before you can have sex. If you find you still feel uncomfortable even after the stitches are out, you and your partner could try finding more comfortable sexual positions. Preparing well emotionally and physically for the sex will also go a long way to make both you and your partner enjoy it.

If it turns out that you are not interested in sex at all, don't panic! Wait till you are ready. Remember your colleagues experience may not be applicable to your situation. We are all different and our bodies respond differently to different situations. However, there are a couple of things you could try. There are a lot of things you and your partner could do to remain intimate. For instance, you and your partner could try to create time to be together more often. Even a few minutes in between the baby’s short naps will help enhance your bond. Keep communication going by texting and calling as often as you can during the day. Communication should not be entirely about the baby. Try balancing it out such that it includes you and your spouse as well as the baby. Take time to go through pictures or other items that hold sweet memories of you and your spouse. You could also try re-live some memorable moments. If time passes and you find that none of this helps, seek help from your healthcare provider.

It may or may not take time for you and your spouse to get to where you were before as far as sexual pleasure is concerned. More often than not, both of you will need to put some effort to it to ensure it gets to the level you want it to be. Anxiety kills the excitement and reduces the lubrication necessary to reduce friction in the vagina. Talk to your spouse about your fears and how you prefer to go about dealing with them. A good place to begin is by rediscovering each other all over again. Gradually ease into the sexual mood by just cuddling and snuggling together. Take time to enjoy each others bodies and don't expect too much out of each other.

When you finally feel ready, take things slow and find the most comfortable position for you. For those who are breastfeeding, it is not uncommon to find that your vagina is a little dry for sex. Use a lubricant to ease the dryness. A lubricant will also come in handy if you feel sensitive around the perineal area. Since not all lubricants are safe to use in the perineal area, ask your healthcare provider to recommend one for you. If you feel uncomfortable at any one time, do not be afraid to ask your spouse to stop for a while. You can always go back once you have worked out what caused the discomfort.

In most cases, your ability to enjoy sex becomes affected when you are too tired. If you are having sex when your baby is awake and needing your attention, you are likely to get distracted and hence not enjoy. Plan your day such that you have quality time for your baby and for your spouse too. For instance, you could plan to have sex in between your baby’s naps. Ensure the baby is well fed and comfortable to avoid distractions. If you have anxieties or fears that could be leading to your low sex drive, talk to your doctor and find out the best way to handle them.

Remember you are unique and you will therefore have a unique experience. After delivery, there are a number of things that need to get back in shape before you can begin to have sex again. Once you are physically and emotionally ready, your body will let you know. Listen carefully to the signals your body gives you and do not forget to seek help when you are in doubt.

Attribution: Avallain Ltd

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning is a method used by some couples to achieve and/or avoid pregnancy. The method involves paying close attention to a woman's menstrual cycle to predict when a woman is fertile. The couple can then avoid having sex on the days when the woman is likely to get pregnant. There are three basic ways used to monitor a woman's menstrual cycle in natural family planning. These methods include the temperature method, the mucus method and the calendar method. The benefits of this method are better realized if more than one method of natural family planning is used, and if they are always used correctly. If you would like to use natural family planning as your birth control method, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance. Below is some information that can help you understand natural family planning better before you can make the decision to use it as your family planning method of choice.

Advantages of Natural FP

The natural family planning method not only helps you to avoid pregnancy, but it can also help you get pregnant by predicting the days when you are most fertile. The benefits of natural family planning include:
  1. It is cost-effective. The only cost you are likely to incur is that of buying a basal thermometer.
  2. Does not require regular visits to the healthcare worker. This method does not require you to visit your healthcare provider all the time. You only need a few initial visits during which your healthcare provider teaches you how to use this method and as soon as you become competent, you are good to go.
  3. Natural family planning has no side effects.

Disadvantages of Natural FP

Natural family planning requires a lot of discipline for it to be effective. Here are the disadvantages of Natural FP.
  1. Natural family planning does not work unless both partners participate actively. It requires the cooperation of both partners to succeed.
  2. The method does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases including HIV & AIDS.
  3. It requires a lot of time and effort to track and monitor the changes in your temperature, mucus and the days in the menstrual cycle.
  4. Other factors such as medicine and infection may cause your basal temperature and mucus to change giving you the wrong signals.
  5. Natural family planning is less effective than other methods and about 25% of women on this method end up pregnant.

Contraindications of Natural FP

It is not advisable to use the natural family planning method if you fall under one of the following categories:
1. Your periods are irregular.
2. If you and your partner are not able to abstain from sex for one week or more each month.
3. If you or your partner have multiple sexual partners. This is because this method offers no protection from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV & AIDS
4. If you have a health problem that can be complicated by getting pregnant leading to a serious health problem.
5. If keeping accurate records is a problem for you.

The Calendar method

This method requires you to track how many days each of your menstrual cycle takes, for a period of about eight months. This will give you a good picture of how long your cycle is. A menstrual cycle begins on day one of your period and ends on day one of your next period. Once you have this record, your healthcare provider can help you predict your fertile days. This method is not 100% accurate and it would be wise to combine it with other fertility methods to increase the efficacy

The Mucus method

This method requires you to observe what happens to your cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is a natural lubricant produced by your cervix that aids the transportation of sperm and helps protect you against infection. The volume and consistency of your cervical mucus changes as your cycle progresses. As your eggs get ready to be released, the mucus becomes thick, sticky and yellow or white in colour. Unprotected sex during this period can lead to pregnancy. You are most likely to be fertile on the days when your mucus is clear, slippery and stretchy (like the white of a raw egg). This kind of mucus is present during ovulation. After about three days of slippery mucus, a more sticky and cloudy mucus follows. After this, a dry period with no mucus follows. You are less likely to become pregnant on the days between when you have the slippery mucus and when your period starts.

The temperature method

When your body is at rest, like in the morning when you wake up, it maintains a certain temperature called the basal temperature. When your ovary releases an egg, this temperature goes up a little bit. The basal temperature is recorded using a special kind of a thermometer, different from the one used to record temperature when you have a fever. If you have sex two to three days before your temperature peaks and the day after that, you are likely to get pregnant. The chances of getting pregnant drop after the third day of a rise in basal temperature. You need to track and record your basal temperature. Your healthcare provider can show you how.

Attribution: Avallain Ltd

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Artificial Family Planning Methods - Get the facts!

The facts about artificial methods of family Planning

Which is the most convenient family planning method for me? This is a popular question in the minds of many women of childbearing age. Just like we plan our finances and our other important activities, the decision of when to get pregnant and have a child should be carefully planned. Pregnancy is a pleasant experience that should not come as an unpleasant surprise as would be the case with unplanned pregnancies. Luckily, there are a variety of family planning options to choose from. However, the decision of which family method to use should be well thought and in conjunction with your gynaecologist. It is important to note that there is no fit-for-all type of contraceptive choice, and thus what is suitable for your friend may not be suitable for you. Similarly, the untoward effects that your friend may have experienced may not apply to you.

Emerging new contraceptive methods

When choosing an appropriate family planning method, you will come across some new emerging methods. Just like other medical fields, family planning is highly dynamic field. Medical professionals are continuously researching on new methods in a bid to improve convenience. Some of the newest methods include the contraceptive patch, vaginal ring and the combined contraceptive injection. There are some newer approaches that have been designed for tubal closure through the womb from below. After assessment, your healthcare provider will advise you on which options are safe for you to use.

Permanent methods

When you feel that your desired family size has been achieved, it is possible to consider having a permanent sterilization. The options include either a tubal ligation (BTL) or vasectomy. Some of the considerations to bear in mind are that these options entail no desire for reversal, thus some risk of regret, and that there is a risk of failure, just like all methods of contraception.It is best that you and your spouse take time to deliberate on this method before making the decision. Once you have made the decision, your healthcare provider will guide you into choosing the most appropriate permanent method for you.


Condoms is one of the most popular artificial family planning method. Condoms are made of a special rubber sheath (latex) that can be worn by either a male or female partner during sexual intercourse. They essentially serve as a barrier that prevents genital fluids from mixing. They are hence a great way to prevent pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS. To be successful, the instructions on how to use a condom effectively need to be followed to the dot. You can get a demonstration on how to use a condom effectively from your nearest family planning health facility.


The pill is formulated to contain a hormone that influences the functioning of the ovaries. There are different types of pills depending on the hormonal composition. Basically, we have the combined contraceptive pill containing two female hormones known as oestrogen and progesterone and a mini pill that contains only progesterone. Due to the hormonal composition of the pill, there is modulation of how the ovary functions and therefore it prevents the egg from forming. The combined pill mimics the natural cycle and after the pill (free week) women experience a withdrawal bleed that represents the menstrual cycle. There is also an effect on the lining of the uterus that ensures a low chance of implantation and hence preventing pregnancy.

Non-contraceptive benefits of the pill

The use of the pill can be extended beyond prevention of pregnancy. Women who have painful and heavy periods while using the pill notice that the menstrual flow gets lighter and the pain disappears. This benefit can be enhanced by using the pill on a continuous basis for three months then breaking for a week and starting the cycle again. It has been shown that women who have used the pill for longer than five years and especially ten years have a lower risk of developing cancer of the ovary and the uterus later in their lives. There may be concerns about the use of the pill increasing the risk of cervix cancer. This is essentially because the pill does not protect against the virus causing cervical cancer. Similarly, the risk of increased transmission of HIV to partners of pill users exists. However, the absolute risk is lower than the consequences of not using contraception. You may wish to discuss further with your healthcare provider to make the right choice.

Side effects of the pill

Generally speaking, the pill has minimal side effects and is well tolerated by the majority of women who use it. In the initial months of using the pill, one may feel nauseated or have some bloating. These effects are minimised when the pill is taken close to bedtime. Some women may feel breast discomfort or have an unusual vaginal discharge. If you have any concerns, b sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

When not to use the pill

The pill is suitable for the majority of women who wish to use it as a contraceptive method. There are however, a number of circumstances in which the pill will not be advisable. Your healthcare provider will go through your medical and family history and be able to advise against the pill when particular risks exist. These include a history of a clot in your veins, uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes and active liver disease. If you have suffered from breast cancer, the pill will usually not be recommendable. Conditions like severe obesity and cigarette smoking may increase your risk of complications if used and you will generally be advised to avoid the pill if these exist.


The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) is a method of family planning that was designed to avoid the general effects of hormonal contraceptives. The device is placed in the cavity of the womb where it exerts its effects. There are two types of contraceptive coils; the copper IUCD and the Mirena which is a special system with a hormone in the place of copper.

How the IUCD works

The conventional IUCD contains copper that is coiled on a T-shaped plastic device. This coil releases small amounts of copper within the cavity of the womb. These particles of copper are hostile to semen thus ensuring that no viable sperm reaches the egg. It usually does not affect the pattern of menstrual flow, except for a slight increase in flow volume. The Mirena system contains progesterone hormone that is released in small quantities over a period of time, up to a maximum of five years. The hormone thins the lining of the uterus making it unfavourable for implantation to take place. It is thought that the hormone may also reduce the chance of the egg being produced.

Side effects of the IUCD

The copper IUCD usually does not cause any significant changes to a woman's body except that the menstrual flow can become heavy in a small group of women. There may be some cyclic cramps in the lower abdomen especially at the time of the menstrual flow. Since the Mirena system has a hormone on the coil, there may be some effects on the menstrual flow. A majority of women will usually experience unscheduled vaginal bleeding that is scant, especially in the first three to six months after insertion. After this period, many women will have their periods disappear. This should not be a source of anxiety since it does not mean you are pregnant. A few women on Mirena may experience breast discomfort and occasional headaches, but this is quite unlikely to occur.

Contraindication of the IUCD

There are occasions when the IUCD may not be ideal as a method of family planning, for example when a woman has undiagnosed vaginal bleeding or cancer of the cervix and uterus. If there is an active pelvic infection due to a sexually transmitted infection, then one is advised to avoid the coil. You may wish to visit your healthcare provider to discuss specific situations that apply to you.


Implants are a form of hormonal contraception that are put under the skin of the inner upper arm. They contain one type of hormone known as progesterone. These implants are engineered to release the hormone in small portions over a long period of time. The commonest type of implant will usually last for five years, though there are some newer ones that may be used for a shorter period.

How the implants work

Implants contain a single hormone progesterone. This hormone influences the way the ovary functions by interfering with egg formation. Because the hormone is constantly being released into the body, this effect lasts as long as the implant is present. It is also thought that the hormone has an effect on the lining of the uterus by making it thin and therefore unfavourable for implantation. This influence on the uterus causes a change in the menstrual cycle with scanty irregular menses or no menstrual flow.

Contraindications of Implants

The contraceptive implant can be used in almost every circumstance. Since it contains the hormone progesterone, it is safe to use at all times of the reproductive life.

Side effects of Implants

The commonest side effect with the implant is unscheduled vaginal bleeding. Most women will experience scanty irregular vaginal bleeding. Sometimes, after a few months on the implant the vaginal bleeding may disappear completely. This should not be a cause of anxiety since you will not be pregnant.

When you have all the facts about the different methods of family planning available, it will be easy to make a choice. Be sure to work with your healthcare provider to help you choose the most convenient method for you. If you experience discomfort at any one time after your commence your new family planning method, be sure to check with your doctors. Remember you are a unique individual and therefore, your experience will be unique and different from that of your colleagues.

Attribution: Avallain Ltd

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Rotavirus Gastroenteritis – A mothers nightmare

Wanjiku considered herself one of the lucky mothers because when her baby Wayne was born her younger sister Linda had finished form 4 and since she was not immediately reporting to college, she offered to stay with her and help with the baby. She never had to worry about how the baby would be fed, cleanliness and comfort since Linda handled this very well. This was however to change when Linda was called to college.
For some reason every house girl she received required a lot of training on basic issues like hand washing, appropriate handling of the baby’s food and literally everything around the house not to mention that the baby also had to adjust to the new girls. None of them seemed to measure up to Linda and it was getting really frustrating. So when a neighbour offered to babysit Wayne for a few days it was a big relief. This was after her fourth girl decided to leave without notice and Wanjiku could unfortunately not get permission to stay away from work.
For a few days things seemed to settle but after 3 days the neighbour informed her that Wayne had refused to eat his food and was running a mild fever. That night Wanjiku did not sleep, Wayne vomited everything he was fed and had so many loose motions. By the next morning when Wanjiku was taking the child to hospital he was immediately admitted and started on fluids. The doctors informed her that her child was severely dehydrated and if she had wasted any more time at home, she might have lost her baby. Further investigations revealed that Wayne had a rotavirus infection, which was shocking to Wanjiku as she had never heard about it. When Wanjiku called her neighbour to brief her on what was happening, the neighbour confessed that her child had also suffered the diarrhoea but it had not been severe and it was resolved quickly.

What is Rotavirus Gastroenteritis?
Rotavirus Gastroenteritis is an infection that is caused by a virus called Rotavirus. It is one of the commonest causes of diarrhoea in children and infants and tends to occur between 4 months and 2 years of age, but still affects children up to 5 years of age. During the course of the infection the child may additionally experience fever and vomiting.

The virus easily spreads from an infected person to another person through contact.
The virus is usually present in the stool of the infected child so when handling the stool of an infected child e.g. when changing their diapers, the virus may contaminate the hands of the caregiver who in turn passes the virus onto any surfaces they touch if they do not clean their hands well.
If the child is able to use a toilet or potty the surfaces may be contaminated or the child may contaminate their hands in the process. If they don’t wash their hands well with soap and water then the virus will be spread to any surfaces they touch.
When another child touches the infected surfaces or items and puts their hands in the mouth or eats foods, they get the virus into their bodies and subsequently get the infection.
The reason why the virus spreads so easily is because it can live for long on surfaces if it’s not disinfected immediately.

How to minimize transmission
  • Hands should always be washed thoroughly with soap and water after nappy or diaper change.
  • If the child is able to use the toilet or potty their hands should also be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water.
  • When a child has an infection, toilet seats and potties should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water and a disinfectant if available, after every use.
  • Soiled nappies and diaper should not be left on the bed or other surfaces and should be discarded or washed immediately.
  • Toys, doorknobs, sinks, tables and any other surfaces at risk of contamination should be cleaned regularly with soap and water.

Symptoms of rotavirus
The symptoms of the infection may appear after about 48 to 72 hours of contact with the virus. Among the main symptoms are:
  • Vomiting    
  • Fever    
  • Large bouts of foul smelling watery diarrhoea
  • Abdominal cramps    
The diarrhoea may last between 3 and 8 days and the severity may vary depending on the child.
In certain instances when the diarrhoea and vomiting are severe and the child is unable to keep any food or drink in the stomach, the child may become dehydrated i.e a situation where the child has lost too much water from the body. This can be life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

How would you know that your child is getting dehydrated?
  • When the child vomits every food or drink they take and is unable to retain anything.    
  • If your child has many large watery diarrhoeas.    

How would you know that your child is dehydrated?
  • If the child does not passing any urine for a period of six hours.    
  • If your child is crying and no tears are running down their eyes. The eyes may be sunken in severe cases.   
  • If the child’s mouth and tongue appear dry.    
  • If your child appears very weak and lethargic or very irritable.    
  • If the child’s hands and feet become cold.
  • If your child sleeps for too long and struggles to wake up during the course of the illness.

These symptoms require immediate medical attention and if you suspect that your child is getting dehydrated you should immediately take the child to the hospital.

How is rotavirus diagnosed in hospital?
A small sample of your child’s stool is collected and sends to the laboratory for analysis, which reveals the presence of the rotavirus in the stool.
How is rotavirus treated?
Because this is a viral infection there is no specific drug treatment for the virus.
Antibiotics and antidiarrhoeal drugs that may be used to treat other forms of diarrhoea have no role in the management of children with rotavirus.
The goal of treatment is to ensure that the child does not get dehydrated.

While at home:
  • Encourage the child to drink as much fluid as possible so as to replace what they is losing in the diarrhoea.
  • If the child is vomiting, give small amounts of fluid regularly to encourage it to stay down.
  • If the child is breastfed, encourage them to breastfeed more to compensate dehydration.  
  • Change your child’s diaper or nappies immediately after they get soiled and keep the child comfortable.
  • If your child develops a nappy rash because of the frequent diaper changes, you can apply a nappy rash cream to soothe and heal the sore buttocks.
  • Use cotton wool and warm water to clean the baby to minimize irritation.

In hospital:
The management of your child will depend on the severity of the illness and the degree of dehydration. Your doctor/nurse will prescribe treatment depending on their assessment.
  • If your child is mildly dehydrated, your nurse or doctor will advise you on the quantity of appropriate rehydration fluid to give your child.
  • You will be advised to encourage your child to drink the rehydration fluid as tolerated.    
  • If the child is unable to drink you may be advised to give the fluid with a cup and spoon.
  • If the dehydration is severe your doctor might advise that your child be admitted and started on a drip. This is a fluid containing different salts that is infused into your child’s body through the vein.
  • In other cases your doctor might recommend that a tube called a nasogastric tube is put through your child’s nose and goes directly into the stomach. This tube is used to give your child the rehydration fluid when they are completely unable to drink.    
  • If your child has a fever the doctor might prescribe a drug to control the fever.
During this time if the child is breastfed they should continue breastfeeding as normal.
If the child eats encourage them to eat small quantities of food as tolerated and resume to normal feeds as soon as it is possible.
Parents are discouraged from giving fizzy drinks like sodas and citrus fruit juices because these can irritate the stomach and worsen the abdominal pain normally experienced.

How to prevent rotavirus.
  • It may not be completely possible to prevent rotavirus however vaccines have been produced and are given to children from the age of 2 months.   
  • The vaccine may not stop a child from acquiring the infection but it is said that vaccinated children get a less severe form of the infection.

    Attribution: Avallain Ltd