Deaths From Gastroenteritis Double Over Recent Decade

C. difficile and norovirus are the leading causes of gastroenteritis; elderly most affected

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- The number of people who died from gastroenteritis more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, particularly among the elderly, according to a study presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, held from March 11 to 14 in Atlanta.

Aron Hall, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used the National Center for Health Statistics multiple cause-of-death mortality data to identify gastroenteritis-associated deaths. All deaths in which the underlying cause or any of the contributing causes listed gastroenteritis were included.

The researchers found that, over the eight-year period from 1999 to 2007, all-cause gastroenteritis mortality more than doubled, from 25 to 57 per 1,000,000 person-years. Eighty-three percent of gastroenteritis deaths (258 per 1,000,000 person-years) occurred in adults 65 years of age or older. Clostridium difficile mortality increased five-fold, from 10 per 1,000,000 person-years in 1999-2000 to 48 per 1,000,000 person-years in 2006-2007. Norovirus contributed to an average of about 800 deaths per year (three per 1,000,000 person-years); norovirus-associated mortality rates surged by up to 50 percent during epidemic seasons. C. difficile-associated deaths were most frequent from March to May, and norovirus-associated deaths peaked from December to February.

"Gastroenteritis is an important cause of mortality in the United States, particularly in the elderly, and rates have increased over the past decade," the authors write.

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