Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach and intestines, commonly caused by infections from bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology: Overview, viruses, or parasites. Transmission may be foodborne, fecal-oral, or through animal contact. Common clinical features include abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, and dehydration. Diagnostic testing with stool analysis or culture is not always required, but can help determine the etiology in certain circumstances. The majority of cases of gastroenteritis are self-limited; therefore, the only required treatment is supportive therapy (fluids). However, antibiotics are indicated in severe cases.

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Overview

Epidemiology

  • The 2nd leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide
  • 3 million deaths annually (> 8,400 per day)
  • Mostly affects young children in developing countries
  • International travelers are particularly susceptible.
  • In the United States:
    • 179 million cases per year (17 million cases are foodborne)
    • Approximately 2 million hospitalizations

Etiology

  • Viral:
    • Norovirus Norovirus Norovirus is a nonenveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family. Norovirus infections are transmitted via the fecal-oral route or by aerosols from vomiting. The virus is one of the most common causes of nonbacterial gastroenteritis epidemic worldwide. Symptoms include watery and nonbloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Norovirus (common)
    • Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family and is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route. Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. Severe infections can result in dehydration and death. Reoviridae: Rotavirus (common)
    • Enteric adenovirus Adenovirus Adenovirus (member of the family Adenoviridae) is a nonenveloped, double-stranded DNA virus. Adenovirus is transmitted in a variety of ways, and it can have various presentations based on the site of entry. Presentation can include febrile pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, acute respiratory disease, atypical pneumonia, and gastroenteritis. Adenovirus
    • Astrovirus
    • Immunocompromised patients:
      • Cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus CMV is a ubiquitous double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. CMV infections can be transmitted in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. The initial infection is usually asymptomatic in the immunocompetent host, or it can present with symptoms of mononucleosis. Cytomegalovirus
      • Enterovirus
  • Bacterial:
    • Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella (common)
    • Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter (common)
    • Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella
    • Escherichia coli Escherichia coli The gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli is a key component of the human gut microbiota. Most strains of E. coli are avirulent, but occasionally they escape the GI tract, infecting the urinary tract and other sites. Less common strains of E. coli are able to cause disease within the GI tract, most commonly presenting as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Escherichia coli (E. coli)
    • Clostridium
    • Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis
  • Parasitic:
    • Giardia lamblia Giardia lamblia Giardiasis is caused by Giardia lamblia (G. lamblia), a flagellated protozoan that can infect the intestinal tract. Giardia transmission occurs most commonly through consumption of cysts in contaminated water or through the fecal-oral route. Excystation occurs in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and trophozoites attach to the intestinal wall villi and cause malabsorption. Giardia/Giardiasis
    • Entamoeba histolytica
    • Cryptosporidium
    • Cyclospora Cyclospora Cyclospora is a genus within the Coccidia subclass of protozoans. They are single-celled, obligate intracellular parasites that cause intestinal infections in humans. Humans are the only host for these species, and they are both transmitted through the fecal-oral route. The symptoms of cyclosporiasis are watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Cystoisospora/Cystoisosporiasis and Cyclospora/Cyclosporiasis

Pathogenesis

  • Modes of infection:
    • Foodborne (toxin accumulation in food products)
    • Fecal-oral (bacterial contamination)
    • Direct or indirect animal transmission
  • Mechanism of diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, associated findings, and etiology are described in the table below.
Mechanism of diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea Non-inflammatory (adhesion, enterotoxin) Inflammatory (invasion, cytotoxin) Penetrating (invades lymphatics)
Presentation Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea Dysentery (blood or mucus) or inflammatory diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea Enteric fever Enteric Fever Typhoid (or enteric) fever is a severe, systemic bacterial infection classically caused by the facultative intracellular and Gram-negative bacilli Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhimurium, formerly S. typhi). S. paratyphi serotypes A, B, or C can cause a similar syndrome. Enteric Fever (Typhoid Fever)
Stool findings
  • No fecal white blood cells (WBCs)
  • Mild or no increase in fecal lactoferrin
  • Fecal polymorphonuclear leukocytes
  • Increased fecal lactoferrin
Fecal mononuclear leukocytes
Pathogen involved
  • Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio cholerae
  • Enterotoxigenic E. coli
  • Enteroaggregative E. coli
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Bacillus Bacillus Bacillus are aerobic, spore-forming, gram-positive bacilli. Two pathogenic species are Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) and B. cereus. Bacillus cereus
  • Staphylococcus Staphylococcus Staphylococcus is a medically important genera of Gram-positive, aerobic cocci. These bacteria form clusters resembling grapes on culture plates. Staphylococci are ubiquitous for humans, and many strains compose the normal skin flora. Staphylococcus aureus
  • Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family and is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route. Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. Severe infections can result in dehydration and death. Reoviridae: Rotavirus
  • Norovirus Norovirus Norovirus is a nonenveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family. Norovirus infections are transmitted via the fecal-oral route or by aerosols from vomiting. The virus is one of the most common causes of nonbacterial gastroenteritis epidemic worldwide. Symptoms include watery and nonbloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Norovirus
  • Enteric adenoviruses
  • Giardia lamblia Giardia lamblia Giardiasis is caused by Giardia lamblia (G. lamblia), a flagellated protozoan that can infect the intestinal tract. Giardia transmission occurs most commonly through consumption of cysts in contaminated water or through the fecal-oral route. Excystation occurs in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and trophozoites attach to the intestinal wall villi and cause malabsorption. Giardia/Giardiasis
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Cyclospora Cyclospora Cyclospora is a genus within the Coccidia subclass of protozoans. They are single-celled, obligate intracellular parasites that cause intestinal infections in humans. Humans are the only host for these species, and they are both transmitted through the fecal-oral route. The symptoms of cyclosporiasis are watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Cystoisospora/Cystoisosporiasis and Cyclospora/Cyclosporiasis
  • Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella
  • Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella
  • Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter jejuni
  • Enterohemorrhagic E. coli
  • Enteroinvasive E. coli
  • Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis enterocolitica
  • Listeria Listeria Listeria spp. are motile, flagellated, gram-positive, facultative intracellular bacilli. The major pathogenic species is Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria are part of the normal gastrointestinal flora of domestic mammals and poultry and are transmitted to humans through the ingestion of contaminated food, especially unpasteurized dairy products. Listeria Monocytogenes Infections monocytogenes
  • Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • Clostridioides difficile*
  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Klebsiella Klebsiella Klebsiella are encapsulated gram-negative, lactose-fermenting bacilli. They form pink colonies on MacConkey agar due to lactose fermentation. The main virulence factor is a polysaccharide capsule. Klebsiella pneumoniae is the most important pathogenic species. Klebsiella oxytoca
  • Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella typhi
  • Y. enterocolitica
*Note: C. difficile produces a cytotoxin and enterotoxin, which leads to watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, but fecal leukocytes can be seen due to inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the inner lining of the bowel ( pseudomembranous colitis Pseudomembranous colitis Pseudomembranous colitis is a bacterial disease of the colon caused by Clostridium difficile. Pseudomembranous colitis is characterized by mucosal inflammation and is acquired due to antimicrobial use and the consequent disruption of the normal colonic microbiota. C. difficile infections account for the most commonly diagnosed hospital-acquired diarrheal illnesses. Pseudomembranous Colitis).

Clinical presentation

  • Common symptoms:
    • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain and cramps
    • Diarrhea (watery, mucoid, or bloody)
    • Vomiting 
    • Fever
    • Anorexia
    • Headache
    • Myalgia
  • Evidence of severe dehydration: 
    • Tachycardia
    • Hypotension Hypotension Hypotension is defined as low blood pressure, specifically < 90/60 mm Hg, and is most commonly a physiologic response. Hypotension may be mild, serious, or life threatening, depending on the cause. Hypotension
Gastroenteritis symptoms

Summary of common symptoms and incubation periods based on the pathogen: Bacillus Bacillus Bacillus are aerobic, spore-forming, gram-positive bacilli. Two pathogenic species are Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) and B. cereus. Bacillus cereus is listed twice since it produces two types of food-borne illness due to different enterotoxins. Emetic-type illness has an incubation of around 1‒6 hours, and diarrheal-type illness has an incubation period of 8‒16 hours.
Note: this is a generalization, and patient presentation can vary.
ETEC: Enterotoxigenic E. coli
EHEC: Enterohemorrhagic E. coli

Image by Lecturio.
Table: Characteristic features of important organisms associated with gastroenteritis
Organism Characteristic features
Bacillus Bacillus Bacillus are aerobic, spore-forming, gram-positive bacilli. Two pathogenic species are Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) and B. cereus. Bacillus cereus
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping
  • Ingestion of preformed toxins in foods, such as fried rice
Staphylococcus Staphylococcus Staphylococcus is a medically important genera of Gram-positive, aerobic cocci. These bacteria form clusters resembling grapes on culture plates. Staphylococci are ubiquitous for humans, and many strains compose the normal skin flora. Staphylococcus aureus
  • Vomiting, abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain
  • Diarrhea is not typical but may occur.
  • Caused by a preformed toxin in foods, such as ham, poultry, potato, egg salad, mayonnaise
  • Rapid onset of symptoms
Clostridioides difficile
  • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, possible fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Associated with antibiotic exposure
Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella
  • Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, frequent fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, and vomiting
  • Associated with undercooked foods, especially poultry, beef, and eggs
  • Antibiotic treatment needed only for severe disease or immunocompromised patients
Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio vulnificus
  • Vomiting, diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, and abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain
  • Associated with raw or undercooked shellfish
  • May cause invasive, life-threatening disease in immunocompromised patients or those with liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver disease (hemochromatosis)
Clostridium perfringens
  • Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, cramps, and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Associated with undercooked or unrefrigerated food
Escherichia coli Escherichia coli The gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli is a key component of the human gut microbiota. Most strains of E. coli are avirulent, but occasionally they escape the GI tract, infecting the urinary tract and other sites. Less common strains of E. coli are able to cause disease within the GI tract, most commonly presenting as abdominal pain and diarrhea. Escherichia coli
  • Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, may be bloody if associated with enterohemorrhagic (Shiga toxin–producing) strain
  • Associated with undercooked beef or foods contaminated with bovine feces
Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella
  • Bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Bacteremia can occur.
  • Associated with contaminated food or water, especially during international travel
Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter species
  • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Highest incidence in children and young adults
  • Associated with raw or undercooked meats
  • “Pseudoappendicitis”
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Cystoisospora Cystoisospora Cystoisospora is a genus within the Coccidia subclass of protozoans. They are single-celled, obligate intracellular parasites that cause intestinal infections in humans. Humans are the only host for these species, and they are both transmitted through the fecal-oral route. The symptoms of cystoisosporiasis are watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Cystoisospora/Cystoisosporiasis and Cyclospora/Cyclosporiasis (formerly Isospora)
  • Microsporidia Microsporidia Microsporidia are a group of obligate intracellular organisms that were recently reclassified as fungi. The most common species of Microsporidia is Enterocytozoon bieneusi. Microsporidia species are ubiquitous, with a wide range of reservoirs. Immunocompromised individuals (particularly those with AIDS and a CD4 count < 100 cells/µL) most commonly develop symptomatic microsporidiosis. Microsporidia/Microsporidiosis species
Chronic watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea in immunosuppressed patients
Giardia
  • Common in the wilderness and rural areas of the United States
  • Asymptomatic patients may continue to shed the organisms for months.
Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family and is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route. Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. Severe infections can result in dehydration and death. Reoviridae: Rotavirus and norovirus
  • Brief illness
  • Vomiting common
  • Commonly seen in cruise ship buffets (norovirus)

Diagnosis

  • Stool testing:
    • Most patients do not require stool testing.
    • Guided by clinical history and findings:
      • Blood or pus in the stool
      • Persistent fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
      • Severe symptoms
      • Prolonged course
      • High-risk patients
    • Fecal leukocytes or lactoferrin → inflammatory diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
    • Stool culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) panel
    • Stool ova and parasites 
    • Direct viral antigen (rarely indicated)
    • C. difficile toxin enzyme immunoassay
  • General testing:
    • Generally only done in severe disease with evidence of dehydration
    • Basic metabolic panel → assesses for acute kidney injury Acute Kidney Injury Acute kidney injury refers to sudden and often reversible loss of renal function, which develops over days or weeks. Azotemia refers to elevated levels of nitrogen-containing substances in the blood that accompany AKI, which include BUN and creatinine. Acute Kidney Injury and electrolyte abnormalities
    • Complete blood count → leukocytosis may be seen; eosinophilia may signal a parasitic infection

The following algorithm summarizes the workup of gastroenteritis:

Diagnostic workup of community acquired infectious diarrhea

Workup of gastroenteritis

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Management

  • Supportive care:
    • Most infections are self-limiting and only require oral rehydration therapy.
    • Intravenous (IV) fluid hydration may be required for severe disease.
    • Oral and IV solutions should contain replacement electrolytes Electrolytes Electrolytes are mineral salts that dissolve in water and dissociate into charged particles called ions, which can be either be positively (cations) or negatively (anions) charged. Electrolytes are distributed in the extracellular and intracellular compartments in different concentrations. Electrolytes are essential for various basic life-sustaining functions. Electrolytes.
  • Antidiarrheal agents Antidiarrheal agents Antidiarrheal agents include several drug classes, including opioid agonists, somatostatin analogues, adsorbents, and bile acid sequestrants. These medications mainly work through antimotility and/or antisecretory effects. Antidiarrheal Agents (loperamide, bismuth salicylate): 
    • Reduce the duration of diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
    • Can delay the excretion of the causative pathogens or toxins, and are contraindicated in:
      • Diarrhea with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
      • Bloody or mucoid stool
      • Diarrhea caused by C. difficile and Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella
  • Antibiotic therapy:
    • Not routinely used
    • The decision to use antibiotics is often empirical, because enteric pathogen testing is not always expedient.
    • Possible indications: 
      • Dysentery (passage of bloody stools)
      • Fever > 38°C (100.4°F)
      • Severe symptoms and hospitalization
      • High-risk population group (infants, elderly, immunocompromised, patients with comorbidities)
      • C. difficile infection
    • Contraindicated if Shiga toxin–producing E. coli is suspected (risk of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS))
    • Frequently used antibiotics:
      • Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones are a group of broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotics inhibiting bacterial DNA replication. Fluoroquinolones cover gram-negative, anaerobic, and atypical organisms, as well as some gram-positive and multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. Fluoroquinolones
      • Azithromycin
      • Trimethoprim Trimethoprim The sulfonamides are a class of antimicrobial drugs inhibiting folic acid synthesize in pathogens. The prototypical drug in the class is sulfamethoxazole. Although not technically sulfonamides, trimethoprim, dapsone, and pyrimethamine are also important antimicrobial agents inhibiting folic acid synthesis. The agents are often combined with sulfonamides, resulting in a synergistic effect. Sulfonamides and Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX)
      • 3rd-generation cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with "cef-" or "ceph-." Cephalosporins

Complications

  • During the infection:
    • Hypovolemic shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired circulation that results in tissue hypoxia. The different types of shock are based on the underlying cause: distributive (↑ cardiac output (CO), ↓ systemic vascular resistance (SVR)), cardiogenic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), hypovolemic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), obstructive (↓ CO), and mixed. Types of Shock
    • Severe dehydration
    • Acute kidney injury 
    • Metabolic acidosis Metabolic acidosis The renal system is responsible for eliminating the daily load of non-volatile acids, which is approximately 70 millimoles per day. Metabolic acidosis occurs when there is an increase in the levels of new non-volatile acids (e.g., lactic acid), renal loss of HCO3-, or ingestion of toxic alcohols. Metabolic Acidosis
    • Electrolyte imbalances
    • Death
  • Post-diarrheal complications are summarized in the table below:
Table: Post-diarrheal complications
Complication Description Organism responsible
Chronic diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea (lasting more than 2 weeks)
  • Lactase deficiency
  • Small-bowel bacterial overgrowth
  • Malabsorption syndromes (tropical and celiac sprue)
Can occur with any type of acute diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, especially protozoal
Initial presentation or exacerbation of inflammatory bowel disease Due to triggering of the inflammatory response Can occur with any type of acute diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, especially C. difficile
Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis is a seronegative autoimmune spondyloarthropathy that occurs in response to a previous gastrointestinal (GI) or genitourinary (GU) infection. The disease manifests as asymmetric oligoarthritis (particularly of large joints in the lower extremities), enthesopathy, dactylitis, and/or sacroiliitis. Reactive Arthritis
  • Asymmetric oligoarthritis of the large joints
  • Enthesopathy
  • Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella
  • Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella
  • Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter
  • Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis
HUS
  • Hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia
  • Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia
  • Renal failure
Follows infection with Shiga toxin-producing bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology: Overview ( Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella and enterohemorrhagic E. coli)
Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), once thought to be a single disease process, is a family of immune-mediated polyneuropathies that occur after infections (e.g., with Campylobacter jejuni). Guillain-Barré Syndrome Acute immune-mediated polyneuropathies Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter

Campylobacter

Pathogen

  • Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter jejuni are curved, gram-negative, oxidase-positive rods with polar flagella.
  • Distinguishing features: 
    • Require a CO2-rich environment
    • Grow at 42.0°C (107.6°F)
    • May appear S-shaped or like seagull wings due to their helical structure
  • The most common pathogen responsible for foodborne gastroenteritis in the United States
  • Highly contagious
Campylobacter species

Image showing the characteristic S-shaped or seagull wing-shaped Campylobacter Campylobacter Campylobacter ("curved bacteria") is a genus of thermophilic, S-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. There are many species of Campylobacter, with C. jejuni and C. coli most commonly implicated in human disease. Campylobacter

Image: “F0001” by the Department of Microbiology/Immunology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania. License: CC BY 2.0.

Transmission

  • Fecal-oral
  • Foodborne (undercooked poultry and unpasteurized milk) and contaminated water
  • Direct contact with infected animals (cats, dogs, pigs) or animal products

Pathogenesis

  • Invades the mucosa of the intestines → produces endotoxins, enterotoxins, and cytotoxins → destroys mucosal surfaces → blood and pus in stools (inflammatory diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea)
  • Rarely penetrates to cause septicemia

Clinical presentation

  • Acute watery and bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Severe right lower quadrant abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain resembling appendicitis Appendicitis Appendicitis is the acute inflammation of the vermiform appendix and the most common abdominal surgical emergency globally. The condition has a lifetime risk of 8%. Characteristic features include periumbilical abdominal pain that migrates to the right lower quadrant, fever, anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. Appendicitis (“pseudoappendicitis”)
  • Headache
  • Myalgias

Management

  • Most cases will have a spontaneous resolution.
  • Macrolides Macrolides Macrolides and ketolides are antibiotics that inhibit bacterial protein synthesis by binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit and blocking transpeptidation. These antibiotics have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity but are best known for their coverage of atypical microorganisms. Macrolides and Ketolides and fluoroquinolones
  • A 3rd-generation cephalosporin, imipenem, ampicillin, or gentamicin can be given for extraintestinal infections.

Complications

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), once thought to be a single disease process, is a family of immune-mediated polyneuropathies that occur after infections (e.g., with Campylobacter jejuni). Guillain-Barré Syndrome (cross-reaction between C. jejuni antibodies Antibodies Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins and human gangliosides)
  • Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis is a seronegative autoimmune spondyloarthropathy that occurs in response to a previous gastrointestinal (GI) or genitourinary (GU) infection. The disease manifests as asymmetric oligoarthritis (particularly of large joints in the lower extremities), enthesopathy, dactylitis, and/or sacroiliitis. Reactive Arthritis (in HLA-B27–positive patients)
  • Hemolytic anemia Hemolytic Anemia Hemolytic anemia (HA) is the term given to a large group of anemias that are caused by the premature destruction/hemolysis of circulating red blood cells (RBCs). Hemolysis can occur within (intravascular hemolysis) or outside the blood vessels (extravascular hemolysis). Hemolytic Anemia
  • Endocarditis Endocarditis Endocarditis is an inflammatory disease involving the inner lining (endometrium) of the heart, most commonly affecting the cardiac valves. Both infectious and noninfectious etiologies lead to vegetations on the valve leaflets. Patients may present with nonspecific symptoms such as fever and fatigue. Endocarditis and myopericarditis
  • Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis

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Non-typhoidal Salmonella

Pathogen

  • S. enteritidis and S. typhimurium are gram-negative, non–lactose fermenting bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology: Overview.
  • Produce hydrogen sulfide and are motile (unlike Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella)
  • The 2nd most common pathogen responsible for bacterial foodborne gastroenteritis

Transmission

  • Foodborne bacterial infection (poultry, raw eggs, milk)
  • Reservoir: enteric tracts of humans and domestic animals (turtles, reptiles, chickens)
  • Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella is sensitive to stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach acid. Lowered stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach acidity (antacids or gastrectomy) increases the risk for infection.
  • Other risk factors: 
    • Hemolytic conditions (sickle cell anemia, malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Malaria)
    • Splenectomy
    • Cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis
    • Leukemia and lymphoma
    • HIV infection HIV infection Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Retroviridae family, is the etiologic agent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The human immunodeficiency virus is a sexually transmitted or blood-borne infection that attacks CD4+ T lymphocyte cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells, leading to eventual immunodeficiency. HIV Infection and AIDS

Pathogenesis

  • Bacteria invade the mucosa in the ileocecal region and are released into the lamina propria → influx of neutrophils → inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation → ↑ prostaglandins and cAMP → loose diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea and necrosis of the upper mucosa
  • Septicemia is not common (< 5%) with S. enteritidis, but may occur with other subtypes.

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period of 8–72 hours, lasts 3–7 days
  • Inflammatory watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea (occasionally bloody) 
  • Fever, chills
  • Headache
  • Myalgias
  • Severe vomiting 
  • Abdominal cramping

Management

  • Supportive care
  • Antibiotics:
    • Not required for most uncomplicated cases
    • Prolongs fecal excretion of the pathogen
    • Only indicated for systemic manifestations or severe diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea:
      • Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones are a group of broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotics inhibiting bacterial DNA replication. Fluoroquinolones cover gram-negative, anaerobic, and atypical organisms, as well as some gram-positive and multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. Fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin) 
      • TMP-SMX 
      • Azithromycin
      • 3rd-generation cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with "cef-" or "ceph-." Cephalosporins (ceftriaxone)

Complications

  • Bacteremia
  • Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis is a seronegative autoimmune spondyloarthropathy that occurs in response to a previous gastrointestinal (GI) or genitourinary (GU) infection. The disease manifests as asymmetric oligoarthritis (particularly of large joints in the lower extremities), enthesopathy, dactylitis, and/or sacroiliitis. Reactive Arthritis
  • Osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that results from the spread of microorganisms from the blood (hematogenous), nearby infected tissue, or open wounds (non-hematogenous). Infections are most commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus. Osteomyelitis (particularly in sickle cell patients)
  • Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis 
  • Myocarditis Myocarditis Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the myocardium, which may occur alone or in association with a systemic process. There are numerous etiologies of myocarditis, but all lead to inflammation and myocyte injury, most often leading to signs and symptoms of heart failure. Myocarditis, endocarditis

Shigella

Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella causes bacilliary dysentery, also known as shigellosis.

Pathogen

  • S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. sonnei, and S. boydii are gram-negative rods.
  • Gastric acid resistant
  • S. dysenteriae type 1 produces Shiga toxin (enterotoxin).

Transmission

  • Fecal-oral
  • Humans are the only natural reservoir.
  • Flies are vectors.
  • Foodborne (unpasteurized milk products and raw, unwashed vegetables)
  • Contaminated water
  • Highly contagious

Pathogenesis

  • Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella invades M cells through macropinocytosis → taken up by macrophages → escapes its phagosome → reaches epithelial cytoplasm and replicates → induces inflammatory response → epithelial and immune cell death Cell death Injurious stimuli trigger the process of cellular adaptation, whereby cells respond to withstand the harmful changes in their environment. Overwhelmed adaptive mechanisms lead to cell injury. Mild stimuli produce reversible injury. If the stimulus is severe or persistent, injury becomes irreversible. Apoptosis is programmed cell death, a mechanism with both physiologic and pathologic effects. Cell Injury and Death
  • Polymerized actin filaments are used to spread cell-to-cell without needing to re-enter the extracellular milieu.
  • Shiga toxin release by S. dysenteriae:
    • Has 3 properties: neurotoxic, cytotoxic, enterotoxic
    • Causes intestinal secretion of solutes and water
    • Can induce HUS
  • Resulting effects:
    • Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
    • Mucus secretion
    • Leukocyte infiltration 
    • Superficial ulcers 
    • Rarely causes invasion of blood vessels

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period of 0–48 hours, lasts 2–7 days
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Tenesmus (urgency to defecate)
  • Inflammatory diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea with mucus, pus, and blood

Antibiotics

  • Usually resolves spontaneously
  • Rehydration and electrolyte replacement may be needed.
  • Antibiotics shorten the duration of symptoms and pathogen shedding in the stool:
    • Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones are a group of broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotics inhibiting bacterial DNA replication. Fluoroquinolones cover gram-negative, anaerobic, and atypical organisms, as well as some gram-positive and multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. Fluoroquinolones
    • Azithromycin
    • 3rd-generation cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with "cef-" or "ceph-." Cephalosporins
  • Avoid antimotility medications, because they can worsen symptoms and may lead to toxic megacolon Megacolon Megacolon is a severe, abnormal dilatation of the colon, and is classified as acute or chronic. There are many etiologies of megacolon, including neuropathic and dysmotility conditions, severe infections, ischemia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Megacolon.

Complications

  • HUS → due to Shiga toxin, often seen in children
  • Acute blood loss → mucosal ulcerations
  • Intestinal complications: 
    • Toxic megacolon Megacolon Megacolon is a severe, abnormal dilatation of the colon, and is classified as acute or chronic. There are many etiologies of megacolon, including neuropathic and dysmotility conditions, severe infections, ischemia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Megacolon
    • Colonic perforation
    • Intestinal obstruction 
    • Proctitis
    • Rectal prolapse Rectal prolapse Rectal prolapse, also known as rectal procidentia, is the protrusion of rectal tissue through the anus. The tissue may include just the mucosa or the full thickness of the rectal wall. Common risk factors include chronic straining, constipation, bowel motility disorders, and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Rectal Prolapse → due to tenesmus
  • Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis is a seronegative autoimmune spondyloarthropathy that occurs in response to a previous gastrointestinal (GI) or genitourinary (GU) infection. The disease manifests as asymmetric oligoarthritis (particularly of large joints in the lower extremities), enthesopathy, dactylitis, and/or sacroiliitis. Reactive Arthritis 
  • Though invasive, Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella only rarely causes septicemia.

Vibrio cholerae

Cholera is a severe form of gastroenteritis caused by Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae).

Pathogen

  • V. cholerae is a gram-negative, oxidase-positive, curved rod with polar flagella.
  • Grows on alkaline media
  • Distinguishing feature: “shooting star” motility inactivated by specific serum
  • Produces the cholera toxin

Transmission

  • Inhabitant of coastal estuarine waters
  • Fecal-oral spread
  • Undercooked seafood or contaminated water
  • Sensitive to stomach Stomach The stomach is a muscular sac in the upper left portion of the abdomen that plays a critical role in digestion. The stomach develops from the foregut and connects the esophagus with the duodenum. Structurally, the stomach is C-shaped and forms a greater and lesser curvature and is divided grossly into regions: the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus. Stomach acid; requires a high dose for infection
  • Outbreaks tend to occur during warm months.
  • Endemic in areas of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, and the U.S. Gulf Coast
  • Susceptibility is increased in:
    • Patients with type O blood
    • Antacid, antihistamine, or proton pump inhibitor use

Pathogenesis

  • Motility, mucinase, and toxin-coregulated pili (TCP) aid in attachment to the intestinal mucosa.
  • Leads to colonization of the intestinal lining without invasion of the intestinal wall
  • Cholera enterotoxin is released: activates adenylate cyclase → ↑ cAMP → efflux of electrolytes Electrolytes Electrolytes are mineral salts that dissolve in water and dissociate into charged particles called ions, which can be either be positively (cations) or negatively (anions) charged. Electrolytes are distributed in the extracellular and intracellular compartments in different concentrations. Electrolytes are essential for various basic life-sustaining functions. Electrolytes and water by the small bowel mucosa in the duodenum and jejunum

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period is 1–3 days.
  • Some patients may be asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms.
  • Profuse “rice-water” stools 
  • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain and nausea are less prominent than other forms of gastroenteritis.
  • Can quickly lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte depletion within hours:
    • Thirst
    • Oliguria
    • Muscle cramping
    • skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Structure and Function of the Skin turgor
  • Severe cases can lead to altered mental status, renal tubular necrosis, and circulatory collapse.

Management

  • Urgent fluid and electrolyte replacement is the 1st priority.
  • Antibiotics are used for severe disease, and can decrease diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea and shedding:
    • Doxycycline
    • Azithromycin (erythromycin in children)
    • Ciprofloxacin

Complications

  • Severe dehydration
  • Renal failure
  • Hypovolemic shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired circulation that results in tissue hypoxia. The different types of shock are based on the underlying cause: distributive (↑ cardiac output (CO), ↓ systemic vascular resistance (SVR)), cardiogenic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), hypovolemic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), obstructive (↓ CO), and mixed. Types of Shock

Non-cholera V. cholerae infections

The following table briefly summarizes the milder form of gastroenteritis caused by non-cholera V. cholerae:

Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio parahaemolyticus Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio mimicus Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio vulnificus
Distinguishing feature
  • Non-lactose fermenter
  • Does not produce enterotoxin
  • “Mimics” V. cholerae in biochemical tests
  • Can produce cholera-like enterotoxin
  • Lactose fermenter
  • Iron-dependent growth
Transmission Consumption of undercooked or raw seafood Consumption of undercooked or raw seafood
  • Gastroenteritis: consumption of undercooked or raw seafood
  • Skin infections: swimming in brackish water, shucking oysters
Disease Gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis
  • Gastroenteritis (less common)
  • Cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a common infection caused by bacteria that affects the dermis and subcutaneous tissue of the skin. It is frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. The skin infection presents as an erythematous and edematous area with warmth and tenderness. Cellulitis or necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that causes rapid destruction and necrosis of the fascia and subcutaneous tissues. Patients may present with significant pain out of proportion to the presenting symptoms and rapidly progressive erythema of the affected area. Necrotizing Fasciitis (common in patients with liver Liver The liver is the largest gland in the human body. The liver is found in the superior right quadrant of the abdomen and weighs approximately 1.5 kilograms. Its main functions are detoxification, metabolism, nutrient storage (e.g., iron and vitamins), synthesis of coagulation factors, formation of bile, filtration, and storage of blood. Liver disease, especially hemochromatosis)
Clinical presentation Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea with cramping and abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain Watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping
  • Gastroenteritis: watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea with cramping and abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain (for gastroenteritis)
  • Skin infection: rapidly spreading, difficult to treat cellulitis that may progress to necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that causes rapid destruction and necrosis of the fascia and subcutaneous tissues. Patients may present with significant pain out of proportion to the presenting symptoms and rapidly progressive erythema of the affected area. Necrotizing Fasciitis and eventually sepsis Sepsis Organ dysfunction resulting from a dysregulated systemic host response to infection separates sepsis from uncomplicated infection. The etiology is mainly bacterial and pneumonia is the most common known source. Patients commonly present with fever, tachycardia, tachypnea, hypotension, and/or altered mentation. Sepsis and Septic Shock
Management Self-limiting Self-limiting
  • Gastroenteritis: self-limiting
  • Cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a common infection caused by bacteria that affects the dermis and subcutaneous tissue of the skin. It is frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. The skin infection presents as an erythematous and edematous area with warmth and tenderness. Cellulitis/ necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that causes rapid destruction and necrosis of the fascia and subcutaneous tissues. Patients may present with significant pain out of proportion to the presenting symptoms and rapidly progressive erythema of the affected area. Necrotizing Fasciitis: tetracycline or 3rd-generation cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with "cef-" or "ceph-." Cephalosporins

Yersinia

Pathogen

  • Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis enterocolitica are gram-negative, oxidase-negative coccobacilli.
  • Facultative anaerobes
  • Pleomorphic bacterium that belongs to Enterobacteriaceae
  • Obligate pathogen
  • Distinguishing features:
    • Motile at 25.0°C (77°F), nonmotile at 37.0°C (98.6°F)
    • Cold growth

Transmission

  • Foodborne (raw or undercooked pork, unpasteurized milk)
  • Blood products
  • Contaminated water
  • Direct or indirect contact with an infected animal (livestock, rabbits, rodents)

Pathogenesis

  • Adheres to epithelial cells in the ileum → invades the intestinal wall, likely through M cells → colonizes lymphoid tissue (Peyer’s patches)
  • Can invade mesenteric lymph nodes and disseminate
  • Enterotoxin production similar to ETEC
  • Leads to mucosal ulceration in the terminal ileum
  • Iron overload states increase the pathogenicity.

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period is around 4–6 days; the duration is 1–2 weeks.
  • Inflammatory bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain
  • Pharyngitis Pharyngitis Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, cough, headache, and hoarseness. Pharyngitis (approximately 20%)

Management

  • Generally only requires supportive care
  • Antibiotics may be used based on severity, but there is questionable clinical benefit:
    • Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones Fluoroquinolones are a group of broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotics inhibiting bacterial DNA replication. Fluoroquinolones cover gram-negative, anaerobic, and atypical organisms, as well as some gram-positive and multidrug-resistant (MDR) organisms. Fluoroquinolones 
    • TMP-SMX
    • 3rd-generation cephalosporins Cephalosporins Cephalosporins are a group of bactericidal beta-lactam antibiotics (similar to penicillins) that exert their effects by preventing bacteria from producing their cell walls, ultimately leading to cell death. Cephalosporins are categorized by generation and all drug names begin with "cef-" or "ceph-." Cephalosporins

Complications

  • Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis Reactive arthritis is a seronegative autoimmune spondyloarthropathy that occurs in response to a previous gastrointestinal (GI) or genitourinary (GU) infection. The disease manifests as asymmetric oligoarthritis (particularly of large joints in the lower extremities), enthesopathy, dactylitis, and/or sacroiliitis. Reactive Arthritis
  • Erythema nodosum Erythema nodosum Erythema nodosum is an immune-mediated panniculitis (inflammation of the subcutaneous fat) caused by a type IV (delayed-type) hypersensitivity reaction. It commonly manifests in young women as tender, erythematous nodules on the shins. Erythema Nodosum
  • Systemic infection
  • Abdominal (rare): 
    • Mesenteric lymphadenitis (“pseudoappendicitis” with right lower quadrant pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain)
    • Mesenteric vein thrombosis (can lead to bowel necrosis)
    • Bowel perforation
    • Toxic megacolon Megacolon Megacolon is a severe, abnormal dilatation of the colon, and is classified as acute or chronic. There are many etiologies of megacolon, including neuropathic and dysmotility conditions, severe infections, ischemia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Megacolon
    • Cholangitis
    • Peritonitis

Clostridium

Clostridium perfringens enterocolitis will be discussed here.

Pathogen

  • Clostridium perfringens type A are gram-positive, anaerobic, spore-forming rods.
  • Distinguishing features:
    • Non-motile
    • Anaerobic: “stormy fermentation” in milk media
    • Double zone of hemolysis on blood agar

Transmission

  • Foodborne (undercooked or poorly refrigerated meat, reheated meat dishes, legumes)
  • Spores can survive cooking temperatures.
  • Proliferates on foods that are improperly stored

Pathogenesis

  • Spores germinate under anaerobic conditions.
  • Enterotoxin is produced in the intestines → disrupts ion transport → watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, cramps

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period of 6–24 hours, resolves within 24–48 hours (usually < 24 hours)
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • Non-inflammatory, watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever are uncommon.

Management

  • Supportive care 
  • Usually a self-limited disease

Other pathologic manifestations

  • Gas gangrene Gas gangrene Gas gangrene, also known as clostridial myonecrosis, is a life-threatening muscle and soft tissue infection that usually develops after traumatic inoculation with Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens), but can also develop spontaneously in association with other Clostridium species. Gas Gangrene
  • Cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a common infection caused by bacteria that affects the dermis and subcutaneous tissue of the skin. It is frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. The skin infection presents as an erythematous and edematous area with warmth and tenderness. Cellulitis and fasciitis
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis Necrotizing enterocolitis Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal inflammatory process that can lead to mucosal injury and necrosis. The condition is multifactorial, with underlying risk factors that include prematurity and formula feeding. The clinical presentation varies in severity from feeding intolerance, acute findings on abdominal exam, and systemic symptoms. Necrotizing Enterocolitis (from type C strains):
    • Beta-toxin produces segmental necrosis of the intestine.
    • Presents with bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, and vomiting
    • Treatment:
      • Antibiotics (penicillin G, metronidazole)
      • Possible surgery for failure to respond, perforation, or obstruction

Related videos

Rotavirus

Pathogen

  • Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family and is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route. Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. Severe infections can result in dehydration and death. Reoviridae: Rotavirus is a non-enveloped, segmented, double-stranded RNA RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA), like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), is a polymer of nucleotides that is essential to cellular protein synthesis. Unlike DNA, RNA is a single-stranded structure containing the sugar moiety ribose (instead of deoxyribose) and the base uracil (instead of thymine). RNA generally carries out the instructions encoded in the DNA but also executes diverse non-coding functions. RNA Types and Structure reovirus.
  • The most common cause of severe diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea among infants and children worldwide
Rotavirus particles

Transmission electron micrograph of rotavirus particles

Image by CDC/Dr. Erskine Palmer, PD.

Transmission

  • Fecal-oral route
  • Only a small inoculum is required for transmission.
  • Common during the winter months

Pathophysiology

  • Penetrates cells of the small intestinal villi → cholera toxin–like protein production → destruction and blunting of the microvilli → disrupts electrolyte and water absorption
  • ↓ disaccharidase activity → malabsorption Malabsorption Malabsorption involves many disorders in which there is an inability of the gut to absorb nutrients from dietary intake, potentially including water and/or electrolytes. A closely related term, maldigestion is the inability to break down large molecules of food into their smaller constituents. Malabsorption and maldigestion can affect macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), or both. Malabsorption and Maldigestion of lactose and D-xylose → osmotic influx into the intestine 
  • Watery stools develop due to active water secretion and impaired absorption.

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period is < 48 hours, and the duration is 4–5 days.
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Non-inflammatory, non-bloody, watery diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea: can be severe and lead to serious dehydration

Management and prevention

  • Disease is self-limited.
  • Oral rehydration
  • IV fluids in patients with severe dehydration
  • Live attenuated vaccine Vaccine A vaccine is usually an antigenic, non-virulent form of a normally virulent microorganism. Vaccinations are a form of primary prevention and are the most effective form due to their safety, efficacy, low cost, and easy access. Vaccination
    • Given to all children before 8 months of age 
    • Contraindications:
      • Severe combined immunodeficiency Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also called "bubble boy disease," is a rare genetic disorder in which the development of functional B and T cells is disturbed due to several genetic mutations that result in reduced or absent immune function. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency disease (SCID)
      • History of intussusception Intussusception Intussusception occurs when a part of the intestine (intussusceptum) telescopes into another part (intussuscipiens) of the intestine. The condition can cause obstruction and, if untreated, progress to bowel ischemia. Intussusception is most common in the pediatric population, but is occasionally encountered in adults. Intussusception

Complications

  • Seizures Seizures A seizure is abnormal electrical activity of the neurons in the cerebral cortex that can manifest in numerous ways depending on the region of the brain affected. Seizures consist of a sudden imbalance that occurs between the excitatory and inhibitory signals in cortical neurons, creating a net excitation. The 2 major classes of seizures are focal and generalized. Seizures
  • Encephalopathy
  • Encephalitis Encephalitis Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain parenchyma caused by an infection, usually viral. Encephalitis may present with mild symptoms such as headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain or with severe symptoms such as seizures, altered consciousness, and paralysis. Encephalitis

Norovirus

Pathogen and epidemiology

  • Norovirus Norovirus Norovirus is a nonenveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family. Norovirus infections are transmitted via the fecal-oral route or by aerosols from vomiting. The virus is one of the most common causes of nonbacterial gastroenteritis epidemic worldwide. Symptoms include watery and nonbloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Norovirus (also known as Norwalk virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology: Overview) is a non‑enveloped RNA RNA Ribonucleic acid (RNA), like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), is a polymer of nucleotides that is essential to cellular protein synthesis. Unlike DNA, RNA is a single-stranded structure containing the sugar moiety ribose (instead of deoxyribose) and the base uracil (instead of thymine). RNA generally carries out the instructions encoded in the DNA but also executes diverse non-coding functions. RNA Types and Structure calicivirus.
  • Community outbreaks (nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, etc.) are common. 
  • Causes the most common type of adult gastroenteritis
Transmission electron microscope image of untreated murine norovirus

Electron microscopy of norovirus

Image: “ Norovirus Norovirus Norovirus is a nonenveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family. Norovirus infections are transmitted via the fecal-oral route or by aerosols from vomiting. The virus is one of the most common causes of nonbacterial gastroenteritis epidemic worldwide. Symptoms include watery and nonbloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Norovirus” by Department of Food Science and Technology, Faculty of Marine Science, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, 4 -5-7, Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8477 Japan. License: CC BY 4.0, edited by Lecturio

Transmission

  • The virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology: Overview is highly virulent.
  • Fecal-oral route through contaminated food, water, or contaminated surfaces
  • Person‑to‑person contact
  • Aerosolized

Pathogenesis

  • Mechanism is not entirely understood.
  • Delayed gastric emptying leads to nausea and vomiting.
  • Jejunal biopsy shows blunting of microvilli, but the mucosa is otherwise intact.
  • Cytoplasmic vacuolization is seen along with mononuclear infiltrates of tissue.
  • The virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology: Overview appears to decrease brush border enzymes Enzymes Enzymes are complex protein biocatalysts that accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed by them. Due to the body's constant metabolic needs, the absence of enzymes would make life unsustainable, as reactions would occur too slowly without these molecules. Basics of Enzymes, causing malabsorption Malabsorption Malabsorption involves many disorders in which there is an inability of the gut to absorb nutrients from dietary intake, potentially including water and/or electrolytes. A closely related term, maldigestion is the inability to break down large molecules of food into their smaller constituents. Malabsorption and maldigestion can affect macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), or both. Malabsorption and Maldigestion.
Recombinant porcine norovirus identified from piglet with diarrhea

Hematoxylin and eosin stain:
A: Normal-appearing, long villi of the duodenum
B: Villi of the duodenum showing mild villous atrophy from a norovirus infection
C: Normal-appearing, long villi of the jejunum
D: Villi of the jejunum showing mild villous atrophy from a norovirus infection

Image: “F3” by the Key Laboratory of Veterinary Biotechnology, School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai JiaoTong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. License: CC BY 2.0.

Clinical presentation

  • Incubation period is 24–60 hours.
  • Abrupt onset of nausea and vomiting
  • Watery, non-bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Myalgias
  • Malaise

Diagnosis and management

  • Diagnosis is usually based on clinical suspicion.
  • Management includes rehydration with oral or IV fluids.

References

  1. Larocque, R., & Harris, J.B. (2020). Approach to the adult with acute diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea in resource-rich settings. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-the-adult-with-acute-diarrhea-in-resource-rich-settings
  2. LaRocque, R., & Harris, J.B. (2019). Causes of acute infectious diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea and other foodborne illnesses in resource-rich settings. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/causes-of-acute-infectious-diarrhea-and-other-foodborne-illnesses-in-resource-rich-settings
  3. Alexandraki, I., & Smetana, G.W. (2020). Acute viral gastroenteritis in adults. In Kunins, L. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acute-viral-gastroenteritis-in-adults
  4. Hohmann, E.L. (2020). Nontyphoidal salmonella: Gastrointestinal infection and carriage. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/nontyphoidal-salmonella-gastrointestinal-infection-and-carriage
  5. Goldberg, M.B. (2020). Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella infection: Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathogenesis. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/shigella-infection-epidemiology-microbiology-and-pathogenesis
  6. Agha, R., & Goldberg, M.B. (2019). Shigella Shigella Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-lactose-fermenting facultative intracellular bacilli. Infection spreads most commonly via person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Humans are the only known reservoir. Shigella infection: Treatment and prevention in adults. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/shigella-infection-treatment-and-prevention-in-adults
  7. LaRocque, R., & Harris, J.B. (2018). Cholera: Microbiology and pathogenesis. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/cholera-microbiology-and-pathogenesis
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  9. Tauxe, R.V. (2019). Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis infections. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-yersinia-infections
  10. Tauxe, R.V. (2019). Treatment and prevention of Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis enterocolitica and Yersinia Yersinia Yersinia is a genus of bacteria characterized as gram-negative bacilli that are facultative anaerobic with bipolar staining. There are 2 enteropathogenic species that cause yersiniosis, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Infections are manifested as pseudoappendicitis or mesenteric lymphadenitis, and enterocolitis. Enterobacteriaceae: Yersinia spp./Yersiniosis pseudotuberculosis infection. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-and-prevention-of-yersinia-enterocolitica-and-yersinia-pseudotuberculosis-infection
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  13. Klochko, A. (2019). Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella infection (salmonellosis). In Bronze, M.S. (Ed.), Medscape. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/228174-overview
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  15. Handa, S., & King, J.W. (2018). Cholera. In Steele, R.W. (Ed.), Medscape. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/962643-overview
  16. Nguyen, D.D., Henin, S.S., & King, B.R. (2018). Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotavirus belongs to the Reoviridae family and is a non-enveloped, double-stranded RNA virus. Transmission occurs through the fecal-oral route. Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. Severe infections can result in dehydration and death. Reoviridae: Rotavirus. In Bechtel, K.A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/803885-overview
  17. O’Ryan, M.G. (2020). Norovirus Norovirus Norovirus is a nonenveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the Caliciviridae family. Norovirus infections are transmitted via the fecal-oral route or by aerosols from vomiting. The virus is one of the most common causes of nonbacterial gastroenteritis epidemic worldwide. Symptoms include watery and nonbloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Norovirus. In Bloom, A. (Ed.), Uptodate. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/norovirus
  18. Boyce, T.G. (2019). Gastroenteritis. [online] MSD Manual Professional Version. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/gastroenteritis/gastroenteritis
  19. Bush, L.M., & Vazquez-Pertejo, M.T. (2020). Camplyobacter and related infections. [online] MSD Manual Professional Version. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/campylobacter-and-related-infections
  20. Bush, L.M., & Vazquez-Pertejo, M.T. (2020). Nontyphoidal Salmonella Salmonella Salmonellae are gram-negative bacilli of the family Enterobacteriaceae. Salmonellae are flagellated, non-lactose-fermenting, and hydrogen sulfide-producing microbes. Salmonella enterica, the most common disease-causing species in humans, is further classified based on serotype as typhoidal (S. typhi and paratyphi) and nontyphoidal (S. enteritidis and typhimurium). Salmonella infections. [online] MSD Manual Professional Version. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/nontyphoidal-salmonella-infections
  21. Bush, L.M., & Vazquez-Pertejo, M.T. (2020). Shigellosis. [online] MSD Manual Professional Version. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/shigellosis
  22. Bush, L.M., & Vazquez-Pertejo, M.T. (2020). Cholera. [online] MSD Manual Professional Version. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/cholera
  23. Bush, L.M., & Vazquez-Pertejo, M.T. (2020). Noncholera Vibrio Vibrio Vibrio is a genus of comma-shaped, gram-negative bacilli. It is halophilic, acid labile, and commonly isolated on thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose (TCBS) agar. There are 3 clinically relevant species: Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae), Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), and Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus). Vibrio infections [online]. MSD Manual Professional version. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-negative-bacilli/noncholera-vibrio-infections

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