Diarrhea is usually a symptom of gastrointestinal infection, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Diarrhea caused by infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking water, or from person to person as a result of poor hygiene. Left untreated, diarrhea can typically last several days. (Source: http://www.who.int/topics/diarrhoea/en/)
Global Pediatric Diarrhea
According to the World Health Organization:
- Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of diarrhea every year among children under five.
- Diarrhea is the second-leading cause of death in children under five and is responsible for killing around 760,000 children every year.
- Diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- Diarrhea is a leading cause of malnutrition and stunting in children.
Countries with the most diarrheal deaths are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Angola, Indonesia and China. In India alone, there are 379 million cases of diarrhea each year among children under five. (Source: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/220)
Diarrhea has a big impact on families, who arrange for the care of sick children. In India alone, diarrhea has a negative economic impact of $26 billion.
Diarrhea in the United States
- There are approximately 45 million episodes, in children under the age of five, each year in the U.S. alone. In the United States, each child will have had seven to 15 episodes of diarrhea by age five. (Source: http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/Diarrhea.aspx)
- Approximately 179 million adult cases of diarrhea occur each year. (Source: “Acute Infectious Diarrhea in Immunocompetent Adults,” The New England Journal of Medicine, Henry L. DuPont, M.D. April 2014.)
- Among travelers from developed countries who visit developing countries, more than 60 percent may experience traveler’ diarrhea, accounting for 40,000 travelers daily or just under 15 million annually (worldwide). (Source: Oxford Journals, September 2014.)
- Although the diarrhea episode is often resolved in about four days, some patients have symptoms for weeks, and it is increasingly noted that some patients may later develop irritable bowel syndrome.
- Traveler’s diarrhea is rarely life threatening but frequently it leads to incapacitation. (Source: Oxford Journals, September 2014.)
- Traveler’s diarrhea is the most predictable travel-related illness. Attack rates range from 30-70 percent of travelers, depending on the destination and season of travel. (Source: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/travelers-diarrhea)
- The most important determinant of risk is travel destination. The world is generally divided into low-, intermediate- and high-risk areas.
- Low-risk countries: United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and countries in Northern and Western Europe.
- Intermediate-risk countries: Eastern Europe, South Africa and some of the Caribbean islands.
- High-risk areas: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central and South America. (Source: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/travelers-diarrhea)