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Rotavirus antigen test

The rotavirus antigen test detects rotavirus in the feces. This 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, line the diaper with plastic wrap. Position the plastic wrap to prevent urine and stool from mixing in order to get a better sample.

The sample should be collected while the diarrhea is occurring. Take the sample to the lab to be checked.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary for this test.

How the Test will Feel

The test involves normal defecation.

Why the Test is Performed

Rotavirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis ("stomach flu") in children. This test is done to diagnose a rotavirus infection.

Normal Results

Normally, rotavirus is not found in the stool.

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.


There are no risks associated with this test.


Because rotavirus is easily passed from person to person, take these steps to prevent the germ from spreading:

  • Wash your hands well after contact with a child who could be infected.
  • Disinfect any surface that has been in contact with stool.

Ask your doctor about a vaccine to help prevent severe rotavirus infection in children under 8 months old.

Watch infants and children who have this infection closely for signs of dehydration.



Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Goldman's Cecil Medicine

Giannella RA. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis and bacterial food poisoning. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds.Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease

Zulfigar AB. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics

Bass DM. Rotaviruses, calciviruses, and astroviruses. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds.Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics

Update Date 5/15/2014

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