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Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is an infection of the digestive system and is unrelated to influenza or regular flu which affects the respiratory system.Aside from adults, the infection can affect infants, toddlers, and teenagers.
Dealing with Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or parasites that can be caught from contaminated food or water or an infected person.However, viral gastroenteritis is the most common version of the disease.Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, headache, and fever.Most people recover from the infection without treatment but doctors warn about dehydration if the infection persists.
Children suffering from stomach flu will have decreased appetite, accompanied by a low-grade fever, stomach ache, and muscle pain.Doctors diagnose stomach flu based on the presented symptoms, such as frequent vomiting and loose stool.If your child is not improving, take them immediately to the doctor to be examined and treated.
Your baby can get the disease from a diaper leak if another child with the infectious agent used the area recently.The infectious agent can cause the disease in a matter of hours.Here are some things you can do if your baby is suffering from gastroenteritis:
1.Breastfeed your baby because breastmilk the best fluid replacement for infants.You can do so every 20 minutes.Babies who are formula-fed and toddlers can drink an electrolyte solution to avoid complications of dehydration.
2.Frequent bowel movements can irritate your baby's bum and it is recommended to apply barrier cream for each diaper change.Bowel movements usually follow right after vomiting in babies with stomach flu.
3.Bring your baby to their doctor immediately.
To prevent the reoccurrence of the stomach bug, practice good hand washing and proper hygiene in your home.Wash your hands whenever you change a dirty diaper, after using the toilet, and before eating meals.You also need to disinfect the surfaces where your baby come in contact with, such as changing tables to reduce the spread of gastroenteritis.
Rotavirus and Norovirus
Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrheal disease in infants and young children.There are eight species of the virus and the rotavirus A is the most common infectious agent of rotavirus infection in humans, about 90 percent.The virus infects and damage cells in the small intestine that causes the stomach flu.Dehydration from diarrhea happens because of multiple effects by the virus.
- The destruction of enterocytes or cells in the gut leads to malabsorption.
- The protein NSP4 produced by the rotavirus disrupts reabsorption of water.
- The lactase, an enzyme that breaks down milk, is secreted by healthy enterocytes into the small intestine that causes lactase deficiency.Lactase deficiency leads to milk intolerance.
Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans and affects people of all ages.The virus replicates in the small intestine and the symptoms of the infection will appear after one or two days.Acute gastroenteritis develops between 12 and 48 hours and lasts for 24 to 72 hours.Norovirus can cause severe gastroenteritis and requires immediate medical attention.Deaths from norovirus infection usually occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as children and the elderly.
Children can be protected from rotavirus infection by vaccination.About nine out of ten children who are vaccinated will be protected from severe rotavirus infection, while about seven out of ten children will be protected from common rotavirus infection, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.In the United States, there are two licensed rotavirus vaccines, RV 1 for infants aged two to four months, and RV 5 for infants aged two to six months.
To date, there is no licensed vaccine available for the norovirus.But there is a vaccine under development to counter the virus.In 2007, Ligocyte's prototype vaccine had started phase 1 trails and is currently under phase 2 human field trials.Scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine developed a way to grow the human variant of the virus.The research aims to understand how the human norovirus works, find the key to prevent infection, and determine solutions to develop better treatment.
Global Trend of the Norovirus
- Norovirus causes about one out of every five cases of acute gastroenteritis.
- At least 685 million cases of gastroenteritis every year are caused by the norovirus.About 200 million of these cases are children younger than five years old.
- An estimated 50,000 children die each year because of norovirus infection.Most of these deaths have occurred in developing countries.
- Winter is the most common season when norovirus infections and outbreaks happen.
- Every two to four years, new norovirus strains emerge in the environment.
- The increasing use of the rotavirus vaccine led to the norovirus becoming the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in children.
- CDC ranked norovirus as the number one cause of foodborne diseases and the number four cause of foodborne deaths.