The Impact of Gastroenteritis
At some point during our lives, virtually every person will experience the symptoms of gastroenteritis: diarrhea that may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. Gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, is strikingly common, with an estimated 179 million episodes of diarrhea occurring in the US each year.1
Gastroenteritis is often caused by infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These pathogens can be spread via contaminated food or water, on contaminated surfaces, or from person to person. Infectious diarrheal disease can range from a minor infection to a serious, life-threatening illness.
In the United States, foodborne diarrheal illness results in more than 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths a year.2 GI illness also exacts a large financial toll, with foodborne illnesses alone costing an estimated $6 billion each year in the US for medical care and lost productivity.3
Unfortunately, overlapping symptomology makes it difficult to determine the probable cause of gastroenteritis based on clinical presentation alone. Furthermore, incorrect diagnosis may lead to unnecessary or incorrect treatment, additional procedures, worsening illness, sequelae, and secondary transmission.