Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before the development of a vaccine, most children in the United States had at least one bout with rotavirus by age 5.

Although rotavirus infections are unpleasant, you can treat most of them at home with extra fluids to prevent dehydration. Occasionally, severe dehydration requires intravenous fluids in the hospital. Dehydration is a serious complication of rotavirus and a major cause of childhood deaths in developing countries.

Vaccination can help prevent rotavirus infection in your infant. For older children and adults — who aren't as likely to develop serious symptoms of rotavirus — frequent hand-washing is the best line of defense.

Mar. 27, 2013