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Review
, 16 (2), 125-36

A Millennium Update on Pediatric Diarrheal Illness in the Developing World

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Review

A Millennium Update on Pediatric Diarrheal Illness in the Developing World

Miguel O'Ryan et al. Semin Pediatr Infect Dis.

Abstract

More than one billion diarrhea episodes occur every year among children younger than 5 years of age in socioeconomically developing countries causing 2 to 2.5 million deaths. More than twenty viral, bacterial, and parasitic enteropathogens are currently associated with acute diarrhea. Rotavirus and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli are the most common pathogens responsible for acute diarrhea episodes in children; Shigella spp., Salmonella spp, Campylobacter jejuni/coli, Vibrio cholerae, Aeromonas spp, and Plesiomonas spp. occur more commonly in poorer areas and infections caused by protozoa and helminthes occur mainly in areas where environmental sanitation is significantly deteriorated. Initial clinical assessment of a child with diarrhea should focus on obtaining an accurate evaluation of hydration and nutritional status. Assessment of stool characteristics (e.g., liquid non-bloody stools vs. dysenteric or bloody stools) is a key feature in determining potential pathogens causing an acute diarrhea episode. Diagnostic guidelines are discussed in the article. The major therapeutic intervention for all individuals with diarrhea consists of fluid and electrolyte therapy. When antimicrobial therapy is appropriate, selection of a specific agent should be made based upon susceptibility patterns of the pathogen or information on local susceptibility patterns. Current guidelines for administering appropriate antimicrobial treatment are provided in the article. Preventive measures include careful personal hygiene, especially promotion of hand washing. Immunizations currently or soon to be available for Salmonella serotype Typhi, cholera prevention, and rotavirus are discussed.

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