Rome (Fides Service) – An epidemic of rotavirus in Guatemala has killed 12 children and infected 11,000 in a few days. The health ministry has declared a situation of emergency in 5 of the country’s 22 departments. The rotavirus (name comes from wheel form under microscope) causes gastrointestinal infection with vomiting or diarrhoea or both, nausea, lack of appetite and fever. This virus is the most common cause of these infections in developing countries where there is scarcity of clean water. It can kill millions of people in a year and infect adults as well as new born babies unless they receive symptomatic therapy which consists in re-introducing lost body fluids with solutions of glucose or mineral salts.
With respiratory infections, rotavirus is one of the main causes of infant mortality. In poor countries where malnutrition, illiteracy and lack of hygiene is widespread and there is greater risk (3.5 million deaths per year) (1.2). In industrialised countries the problem must not be undervalued (400 deaths per year) under 5 (3.4). (AP) (4/2/2004 Agenzia Fides; Righe:20 Parole:214 )