Gastroenteritis in children: a two-year review in Manitoba

Author(s): Gurwith MJ, Williams TW


During two years, 1,217 children hospitalized with gastroenteritis at the Children's Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada were studied. Bacterial pathogens were present in 25% of these children: enteropathogenic Escherichia coli in 120, Shigella in 139, Salmonella in 24, and multiple pathogens in 18. Rotavirus was detected in 54 (11%) of 472 patients examined. Rotavirus and enteropathogenic E. coli were the most common pathogens in infants, and Shigella was the most common in older children. Bacterial diarrhea occurred more commonly in summer, whereas rotavirus infection occurred more commonly in winter. Among 276 children screened, enterotoxigenic E. coli was found in three, and Aeromonas shigelloides that produced a similar toxin in two others. Enteroinvasive E. coli was not detected in 70 children. Organisms producing toxins "cytotoxic" to HeLa cells were isolated from three of 90 children. Screening for enterotoxigenic or enteroinvasive organisms was not productive of a significant number of pathogens, and, although screening for rotavirus did improve the number of etiologic diagnoses, the etiology of the majority of cases of diarrhea remained unknown.

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