April 15, 2024

Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is a common illness that may be asymptomatic or occur as a diarrheal disorder in which there are three or more loose bowel movements in a day and usually associated with nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping or pain and fever.
Common causes of AGE are infections with viruses like rotavirus, astroviruses, and adenoviruses; and bacteria like Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, and Vibrio cholera. Salmonella typhosa and Entamoeba histolytica are also a common cause of AGE.
Primary infections that can lead to an outbreak in a community may be due to contamination of water that occurs when the main source is exposed to household or other waste.
Breakdown of or inadequate water filtration system in a building or in a home can also be a factor. Infection most commonly spreads through the so-called fecal-oral route or ingestion of contaminated food or water.
Food contamination occurs when a food handler does not wash his or her hands before preparing food or when one fails to wash hands before eating. Some studies revealed the presence of gastroenteritis viruses in some inanimate objects like spoons and forks, suggesting that infection may also be transmitted through contaminated fomites or utensils.
Dehydration is the most feared complication of acute gastroenteritis. It can have a great impact on anyone but most especially on young children, the elderly, and immune-compromised persons.
Severe dehydration can lead to hypovolemic shock and a drop in blood pressure. Vital organs become affected because of reduced blood flow and oxygenation. Acute kidney failure or “renal shutdown” can ensue.
Electrolyte imbalance may also develop due to loss of electrolytes like potassium and sodium. Low potassium level can lead to irregular heart rhythm or slowing down in the movements of the intestines.
Treatment with oral rehydration solutions that contain electrolytes can prevent dehydration. If the person cannot tolerate fluids by mouth then replacement fluid is given through the vein. The most important treatment is to hydrate – to replace water and electrolytes. Routine intake of antiobiotics is discouraged. These are after evaluation by a healthcare gi-ver and with proper prescription.
Prevention of food and water contamination by safeguarding water sources prevents outbreaks and primary infections in a community.
Careful and adequate nursing and handwashing will prevent the secondary spread of infection in smaller groups or families.