Rotaviruses spread by the fecal-oral route. Childhood epidemics generally occur in winter in temperate climates, perhaps because children are more apt to be confined indoors in groups where the viruses can spread easily. Generally, by the age of four years, children have acquired some immunity to these viruses. Rotaviruses also cause about 25% of traveler's diarrhea cases. Rotaviruses that infect a wide variety of young wild and domestic animals do not cause human disease. Experimentally, however, reassortment of genetic segments can occur with dual infections. It is not known whether new human pathogenic rotaviruses arise by this mechanism.

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