Gastroenteritis is defined as an infection of the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small intestine, and/or large intestine). Gastroenteritis is common, and the resulting vomiting, dysentery, and/or diarrhea is the most common cause of death in developing countries, accounting for approximately 2.5 million fatalities per year. In the United States alone, it is estimated that there are over 10,000 deaths annually due to gastroenteritis. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause gastroenteritis are most commonly transmitted to humans through contaminated food or water but in some cases can be directly transmitted from an infected individual or other object. Some infections are self-limiting and do not require treatment except for rehydration, while others are extremely serious and require immediate medical treatment.

In general, gastroenteritis can be broadly divided into three ...

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