December 19, 2014

CDC: Deaths from Gastroenteritis Double from 1999 to 2007

According to the CDC, deaths from gastroenteritis, the illness caused by bacteria, doubled from 1999 to 2007. The findings were presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious diseases in Atlanta, Georgia.

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach and intestines that causes the characteristic symptoms of food poisoning: vomiting and diarrhea. Lead author Aron Hall, DVM, said that “Gastroenteritis is a major cause of death worldwide. By knowing the causes of gastroenteritis-associated deaths and who’s at risk, we can develop better treatments and help health care providers prevent people from getting sick.”

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics was used to compile the report. The number of gastroenteritis-associated deaths doubled from 7000 per year to more than 17,000. Elderly people accounted for 83% of the deaths.

The two most common causes of gastroenteritis were from norovirus, that extremely contagious virus, and Clostridium difficile.

The deaths from C. difficile went up 500%, from 2700 cases to 14,500, mostly because of the emergence of a hypervirulent, resistant strain of that particular bacteria. That type of bacteria is associated with healthcare settings.

Norovirus cases accounted for about 800 deaths per year. That illness causes about 70,000 hospitalizations in the United States every year.

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