Viral Gastroenteritis

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


Acute infectious gastroenteritis is a common illness seen around the world. Viral pathogens cause most of these cases. Acute diarrheal disease is generally self-limiting in industrialized nations but can have significant morbidity for young and elderly patients. In underdeveloped countries, viral diarrheal diseases are a significant cause of death, especially in infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control, viral gastroenteritis infections can account for over 200,000 deaths of children per year worldwide. Viral gastroenteritis is a known cause of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, weight loss, and dehydration. Isolated cases can occur, but viral gastroenteritis more commonly occurs in outbreaks within close communities such as daycare centers, nursing facilities, and cruise ships. Many different viruses can lead to symptomatology, though in routine clinical practice the true causative virus is generally not identified. Regardless of the viral cause, treatment is generally uniform and directed toward symptomatic improvement with a focus on hydration status. In the United States and other industrialized countries, the disease is most often self-limited and resolves in 1 to 3 days. However, in susceptible patients including young children, elderly patients, and the immunocompromised, hospitalization can occur without proper supportive care leading to increased morbidity and mortality.

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