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U.S. Deaths From Gastro Infections Doubled Over 8 Years: CDC
Date:3/14/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- In recent years, deaths resulting from the common stomach and intestinal illness known as gastroenteritis have more than doubled in the United States, a new report reveals.

Infections involving one of two germs in particular -- C. difficile or norovirus -- seem to be driving the trend.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that between 1999 and 2007 the total number of deaths resulting from the vomiting and diarrhea that characterizes the illness rose from about 7,000 to more than 17,000.

"The message here is that clearly this is not just a problem in the developing world," noted study lead author Aron Hall, an Atlanta-based epidemiologist in the CDC's division of viral diseases. "Diarrhea is an important problem in the U.S., particularly among the elderly, and it seems to be worsening in recent years."

According to the study, 83 percent of all observed deaths from gastroenteritis in the United States now occur among adults over the age of 65.

Using data gleaned from the National Center for Health Statistics, the team found that most such deaths are now attributable to two types of bacteria: Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and norovirus.

C. difficile is particularly troubling, the authors said, because deaths attributed to this germ rose by a factor of five over the course of the study period -- C. difficile infections led to 2,700 deaths in 1999 but by 2007 that figure had risen to 14,500.

By 2007, C. difficile infections made up two-thirds of all fatalities from gastroenteritis, with the highest incidence of related deaths occurring during the spring (March to May).

The observation builds on concerns raised just last week, when experts speaking at a CDC news conference warned that patients being treated at a variety of cl
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