The rotavirus causes an inflammation in the gastrointestinal system. Infected children risk dehydration due to prolonged or severe diarrhoea. Rotavirus infections are particularly common among young children up to two years of age. The rotavirus is very contagious.

The rotavirus in brief

How do you get infected with the virus?

Through your hands and mouth

Common symptoms

Vomiting, (severe) diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain

Severe symptoms


Which vaccination offers protection?

Rotavirus vaccination

Symptoms of a rotavirus infection

Not all children who are infected with the rotavirus become ill. However, the first time a child gets infected he or she usually has symptoms. Subsequent infections cause fewer symptoms. Symptoms often occur quite suddenly, for example in the form of:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • (severe) diarrhoea
  • fever
  • abdominal pain or abdominal cramps

The symptoms continue for four to nine days. Sometimes the child risks dehydration due to diarrhoea and has to go to hospital. The interval between infection and becoming ill is one to three days.

How do you get infected with the rotavirus?

The virus is found in the stool of infected people. After going to the toilet, they may leave the virus on the toilet seat, the flush button, the tap or the door handle. The virus may then reach a person’s mouth through their hands and can also end up on toys, cutlery, cups, plates and food.

Anyone can be infected with the rotavirus, but young children and older people are more likely to become ill. The risk of infection is higher where people live or work closely together – for example, among children in a day care centre.
Once you have had a rotavirus infection, the virus can still make you ill a second time, but usually the symptoms are less severe.

The rotavirus is very contagious. Rotavirus infections are common among children up to two years of age. Nearly every child goes through multiple rotavirus infections before the age of five. Every year, around 3,500 infected children are admitted to hospital. Around five to six children die of a rotavirus infection every year.

Children born on or after 1 January 2024 will be offered vaccination against the rotavirus through the National Immunisation Programme.

If your child was born in 2023, you can arrange the vaccinations yourself through your GP or the Municipal Public Health Service (external link), provided that your child is not too old for this. The maximum age for the Rotarix® vaccine is 24 weeks, and the maximum age for the RotaTeq® vaccine is 33 weeks. The costs of the vaccine and of your GP visit are for your own account. You can consult your GP or the GGD(Municipal Public Health Service) if you are not sure if your child needs to be vaccinated.

Rotavirus infections following vaccination

After vaccination against the rotavirus, your child may still be infected. However, in that case the chance of your child becoming very ill is small.

Rotavirus infections usually pass on their own. If you are worried about the symptoms, consult your GP. Make sure your child drinks a lot. This is important in order to prevent dehydration.

Besides having your child vaccinated against the rotavirus, you can also take measures yourself.

Wash your hands with water and soap:

  • before preparing food or formula
  • before eating
  • after using the toilet
  • after changing diapers or helping a person on the toilet
  • after cleaning, also after using a dishcloth
  • after stroking or cuddling an animal
  • after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose

Also watch the video Washing your hands – Do it often and do it thoroughly (in Dutch).


  • Clothes or bedding with faeces or vomit on it can be machine-washed, but make sure not to overload the washing machine. Use the full washing cycle at a minimum of 40 °C, then dry the laundry in the drier or iron it at the highest possible temperature.
  • Clean toys that children are likely to put into their mouths every day with an ordinary cleaning product.

Video: what is rotavirus?

Textalternatief - RIVM Rotavirus

This animation provides information about rotavirus infections, the related symptoms, and strategies for prevention.

The rotavirus comes into play.

A rotavirus infection is
caused by an infectious disease.

A child with rotavirus appears, with thickening and reddening (inflammation) of the stomach and intestines beside.

If you have a rotavirus infection, your
stomach and intestines will be affected.

All symptoms appear sequentially.

You will suffer fever, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
These symptoms usually last 4 to 6 days.

An image of stool appears on the screen.

Rotavirus spreads through stool
material, also known as poop.

A toilet and a hand with a virus appear.

When people use the toilet,
they can get the virus on their hands...

The virus moves sideways and lands on the person on the left.

causing them to become...

The virus moves from the left person to the right person.

infected or infect someone else.

We see many children with the rotavirus.

Rotavirus is very common.

The children disappear, leaving only one, with diarrhea appearing next to them.

Young children aged 6 to 24
months are particularly vulnerable.
Children often develop severe
diarrhoea and can become dehydrated.

A hospital icon appears.

3,500 children with rotavirus end
up in hospital every year as a result.

Hands washing and the rotavirus with a descending icon appear.

Washing your hands thoroughly
reduces the risk of rotavirus.

We see the child again, with a vaccination next to it.

Babies aged 6 weeks and up can
get a vaccination against rotavirus.

The syringe is replaced by drops.

It is an oral vaccine, not an injection.
It is administered by putting
drops in the childs mouth.

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