Unfortunately, no parent can escape the peril of
infant diarrhea. Infectious diarrhea is one of the most common problems
in childhood. Each year in the United States, 37 million cases of
childhood diarrhea occur in children ages 5 years and younger. On
average, every child experiences two bouts of diarrhea a year. Annually
in the United States, infant diarrhea results in almost 4 million
doctors’ office visits, over 200,000 hospital admissions, and several
hundreds of preventable deaths (1). Diarrhea can be caused by a variety
of microbes, or parasites, but most often it is caused by viruses. Among
all microbes causing diarrhea in infants and children, rotavirus
frequently produces more severe diarrhea. Approximately 10% of all cases
of childhood diarrhea are caused by a rotavirus; however, among children
with severe diarrhea, rotavirus is found in almost 50% of cases (2).
Worldwide, rotavirus causes more than 125 million cases of diarrhea
annually in children younger than 5 years of age. In the developed
countries, children rarely die from diarrhea, dehydration and loss of
electrolytes. But the mortality rate
in developing countries due to dehydration and loss of electrolytes
caused by rotavirus is over 800,000 each
Rotavirus is transmitted by close contact,
especially through the fecal-oral route, and possibly through the
respiratory route (3). Rotavirus is an important pathogen in day
care-acquired illnesses. The virus can remain infectious on inanimate
surfaces, such as toys, for several days, and up to four hours on human
hands (4). As a rule, rotavirus infection is accompanied by fever,
vomiting, and diarrhea followed by dehydration (loss of body water).
Dehydration is the cause of children’s sickness when they develop
diarrhea; therefore, management and prevention of dehydration is an
important strategy in the treatment of diarrhea.
Diarrhea caused by some bacteria, such as E.
coli, salmonella, and shigella, is frequently accompanied by high-grade
fever and blood in the stool.
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