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January 24, 1996

Infections of the Gastrointestinal Tract

Author Affiliations

McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center Richmond, Va

JAMA. 1996;275(4):331-332. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530280083052

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Gastrointestinal infections, particularly cholera and dysentery, have had an impact on human history. In the words of Tramont and Gangarosa, contributing authors to this text, diarrheal infections "have accounted for the outcome of more battles than the instruments of war." Today, diarrheal diseases continue to affect humankind. Globally, an estimated four to six million children die each year from diarrheal diseases, making them the leading cause of death in developing countries.

While the number of deaths in the United States is much smaller, gastrointestinal infections constitute the second or third most common clinical syndrome seen in general practice. Thus, physicians in practice today must be comfortable and knowledgeable in the diagnosis and management of at least the common gastrointestinal infections. In the last decade, new or newly recognized enteric diseases have emerged.

Examples include gastrointestinal syndromes associated with Escherichia coli O157:H7, Cryptosporidium, and AIDS.

The diagnosis and treatment of these