What is the global prevalence of gastroenteritis?

Updated: Feb 10, 2017
  • Author: Arthur Diskin, MD; Chief Editor: Steven C Dronen, MD, FAAEM  more...
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There are an estimated 2 billion cases of diarrhea that occur yearly, and it is the leading cause of death in many underdeveloped countries. It is the second leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years, taking the lives of approximately 1.9 million children each year. [14, 15] Approximately 30-50% of visitors to developing countries return with diarrhea.

In May 2011, a shiga-toxin–producing E coli (O104:H4), eventually classified as enteroaggregative pathotype, started in Germany and affected 3000 or more individuals, with 900 (30%) or more developing hemolytic–uremic syndrome (a very high percentage) and with an unusual number of adults affected and a high mortality rate compared with prior shiga-producing E coli strains. The German outbreak is unique as horizontal genetic exchange appears to have resulted in this unique O104:H4 strain, which has a prophage encoding shiga toxin 2 and additional virulence and antibiotic-resistance factors. Fieldwork suggested the source was fresh vegetables. [16]

In a systematic review and meta-analysis of data on the prevalence or incidence of norovirus and acute gastroenteritis in Latin America, the overall prevalence of norovirus in acute gastroenteritis cases was 15%, and 37%-100% of cases were associated with GII.4 strains (but only 7% of asymptomatic norovirus patients were affected with this strain). [17]

In a 2017 report that estimated the healthcare costs of acute gastroenteritis and human Campylobacter infection in Switzerland, investigators reported an annual cost of approximatedly 29-45 million euros, of which about 9 to 24.2 million euros related to physician visits without a stool diagnostic test being obtained; about 12.3 million euros for patients with negative Campylobacter species stool tests and 1.8 million euros for those with positive positive Campylobacter species stool tests; and 6.5 million euros for inpatients with Campylobacter infection. [18]

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