Submitted by Thiruvelan on Sun, 04/28/2013

What is gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis otherwise called as stomach flu is an infection of the stomach or small intestine by virus or bacteria.


Gastroenteritis is medical condition characterized by inflammation due to infection of the stomach, small or large intestine by a virus or bacteria. The infection in the small intestine is typically non-inflammatory, while infection in the large intestine is inflammatory.

The strength of pathogens required for infection varies from one (for Cryptosporidium) to 100000000 (for Vibrio cholera). The infection is most often by certain viruses or less often by bacteria, their toxins, parasites, or diet, medication’s adverse reaction. At least 50 % gastroenteritis cases are due to norovirus through food. Another 20 % of gastroenteritis cases, a majority of them are children affected by rotavirus. Another dominant viral agent is an adenovirus.

Gastroenteritis has referred to as gastro, tummy bug, stomach bug, and stomach virus. Although it is unrelated to influenza, it has called stomach flu and gastric flu.

Gastroenteritis is contagious and can spread through infected person, food (especially seafood) or drink (less common) that is contaminated. Prevention is key wash hands frequently and avoids food or water or utensils that they think might be contaminated.

Acute gastroenteritis is a sudden onset of diarrhea (watery stools) due to infection by virus or bacteria.

Chronic gastroenteritis is a long term of diarrhea (watery stools) due to infection by virus or bacteria.

Gastroenteritis prevalence

An estimate shows that three to five billion cases of gastroenteritis occur globally per annum. It primarily affects children in the developing countries, resulting in 1.3 million deaths in children of age less than five as of 2008. More than 450,000 of these deaths are due to rotavirus. In developing countries, children of age less than two years are getting six or more infections a year. It is uncommon among adults due to acquired immunity. In the US, gastroenteritis is the second frequent infection next to common cold, results in approximately 10,000 deaths annually.