Test Catalog

Test ID: ROTA    
Rotavirus Antigen, Feces

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Investigation of patients with diarrhea, particularly infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients


Investigation of nosocomial diarrhea

Testing Algorithm Delineates situations when tests are added to the initial order. This includes reflex and additional tests.

See Laboratory Testing for Infectious Causes of Diarrhea in Special Instructions for other tests that may be useful in the evaluation of a patient with diarrhea.

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Rotavirus is a major cause of nonbacterial gastroenteritis, especially in infants and very young children (6 months-2 years of age) who have not received the rotavirus vaccine. Infection may be entirely asymptomatic or produce a spectrum of disease ranging from mild gastroenteritis to severe diarrhea and vomiting with dehydration. Infection usually begins acutely and lasts for 4 to 8 days. In temperate climates, rotaviral infections are seasonal; they peak in frequency during the winter months and are uncommon during the summer. Rotaviral gastroenteritis is, therefore, sometimes called "winter vomiting disease."


Infection is more likely to be symptomatic in preterm infants, immunosuppressed patients, and elderly individuals, especially those living in nursing homes or other confined quarters. In other children and adults, rotavirus infections are usually subclinical and may be associated with asymptomatic shedding of rotavirus in the feces.


Rapid and accurate detection of rotavirus antigens in fecal specimens may lead to better patient management, particularly in hospitalized or institutionalized patients.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.


Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Peak viral counts are reported to occur on days 3 to 5 after onset of symptoms. The virus is eliminated from the infected individual within a few days following acute infection. Specimens collected 8 days or more after onset of symptoms may not contain enough rotavirus antigen to produce a positive reaction.


A prolonged carrier state has been recognized with rotavirus infection.


The rate of positive test results may vary due to age, weather, seasonal factors, geographic location, and the general health environment for the group under study.


See Laboratory Testing for Infectious Causes of Diarrhea Algorithm in Special Instructions for other diagnostic tests that may be of value in evaluating patients with diarrhea.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Fecal specimens should be collected as soon after onset of symptoms as possible.


Do not collect specimens in containers having media, preservatives, animal serum, or detergent as any of these may interfere with the assay.


A positive result does not preclude the presence of other pathogenic organisms. While the relationship between rotavirus and gastroenteritis is well established, coinfection with bacterial or parasitic pathogens is possible. If suspected, testing for other enteric pathogens should be performed in parallel with the rotavirus antigen test.


Results of the rotavirus antigen assay must be interpreted with caution. A negative result does not exclude the possibility of rotavirus infection, as too small a quantity of virus or inadequate or improper sampling may cause a false-negative result.

Supportive Data

This EIA antigen detection method has 100% sensitivity and 92% specificity when compared to transmission electron microscopy (EM), the method initially used to detect virus in fecal and intestinal biopsy specimens and the standard to which rotavirus diagnostic tests are compared. When compared to EM and RNA analysis, in combination, the specificity increases to 97%.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rotavirus. Accessed 4/23/2018. Available at www.cdc.gov/rotavirus/index.html

Special Instructions Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test