The orbiviruses, coltiviruses, and orthoreoviruses are not understood well enough to engender the development of any anti-viral therapy or treatment. Symptomatic treatment for the febrile illness includes pain relief and fever reduction using acetominophen and codeine. Experimental studies have been done using ribavarin against the viruses from these genera. It would seem that ribavarin might be effective in the prophylaxis or treatment of colorado tick fever. However, as it does not cross the blood brain barrier, this drug will not be useful in managing any encephalitis caused by these viruses. An experimental vaccine for colorado tick fever also exists.
Human rotavirus, on the other hand, has a very effective theraphy which drastically reduces the danger of death from dehydration. Known as oral rehydration therapy (ORT), this treatment is inexpensive. It consists only of electrolytes and water, usually made up of glucose, NaCl, baking soda, and KCl. Rotavirus causes dehydration by attacking the tip cells of the intenstinal villi. As these cells are destroyed, absorptive surface area is lost, and fluid leaves the body in high volume in the form of diarrhea. Oral rehydration therapy uses electrolytes as co-transporters to increase fluid uptake as the water flows down its concentration gradient and follows the electrolytes into the villi. There also exists super-ORT which also includes proteins. This prevents the increase in diarrhea that usually accompanies the administration of ORT and which causes many mothers to believe that the therapy is not working.
ORT presents the possiblity of radically decreasing world mortality from rotavirus infection. It can be produced and distributed at a much lower cost than a vaccine could be, and will be effective in a large majority of the cases. Increasing nutritional standards worldwide is also necessary.
For more information on ORT and how to administer it, click on ORT Info From Your Family Doctor.
For information on alternatives to glucose-based ORT, try a Cereal-Based ORT webpage.