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Do you remember getting severe stomachaches as a child? Although there are many possible explanations such as food poisoning and constipation, a likely cause of your stomach pains is due to a viral infection. Rotavirus may not be as well known as viruses such as Ebola and HIV, but its impact on lives certainly makes it a virus that should not be ignored. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea in infants and young children; the virus infects all children by the age of five, and kills an estimated half a million children each year. There currently isn’t enough information available on rotavirus in order for an antiviral drug to be developed. However, a recent discovery has helped make large advancements towards that goal.

 Cartoon illustration of a rotavirus.

Image source: Callista Images

Researchers have discovered the method by which rotavirus attacks; rotavirus uses the carbohydrate receptors found in intestinal cells in order to cause infection. The researchers also learned that all strains of rotavirus do not use the same carbohydrate receptor. They believe that these findings will enable us to take on rotavirus infections through more efficient and effective methods.

Rotavirus may cause panic for unsuspecting parents of an infected child. Fortunately, rotavirus vaccines are available and very effective in limiting the symptoms and preventing infection. However, once a child becomes infected with rotavirus, vaccines become useless and antiviral drugs are necessary for treatment. Although there currently is no available antiviral drug for rotavirus, the results of this study will hopefully contribute to that being changed in the near future.

Feature Image Source: day 045. by Holly Lay

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