The rotavirus antigen test detects rotavirus in the feces. Rotavirus is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in children.
How the test is performed
There are many ways to collect stool samples. You can catch the stool on plastic wrap that is loosely placed over the toilet bowl and held in place by the toilet seat. Then you put the sample into a clean container. One type of test kit supplies a special toilet tissue to collect the sample, which is then placed in a container.
For infants and young children wearing diapers, try lining the diaper with plastic wrap. If the plastic wrap is positioned properly, it will help prevent urine and stool from mixing to provide a better sample.
The sample should be collected during the acute phase of the infection, which is the period in which diarrhea is occurring.
The sample is taken to the laboratory for evaluation.
How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary for this test.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean
Rotavirus in the stool indicates a rotavirus infection is present.
What the risks are
There are no risks associated with this test.
Because rotavirus is easily transmitted from person to person, thoroughly wash your hands after contact with a child who is infected or thought to be infected. Disinfect any surface that has been in contact with stool. A vaccine is available to help prevent severe rotavirus infection in children under 8 months old.
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Zulfigar AB. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman Re, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 332.
Bass DM. Rotaviruses, calciviruses, and astroviruses. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman Re, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 257.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.