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 23 January 2018

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News

Mortality due to gastroenteritis of unknown etiology in the United States

Fatal gastroenteritis of unknown etiology often appears to be infectious in origin, but information is often insufficient to determine whether causative agents are unknown, or foodborne, finds a study in the February issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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Gastroenteritis of unknown etiology (GUE) is a significant cause of mortality in the United States.

In this study, Dr Paul Frenzen examined the demographic and medical characteristics of people who died of GUE.

The 1995 to 1997 Multiple Cause of Death files were used to calculate GUE death rates and proportionate mortality ratios.

Death rates were highest among infants and the elderly.
Journal of Infectious Diseases
There were 13,153 GUE deaths during this period. This averages at 4400 deaths per year.

Dr Frenzen found that death rates were highest among infants and the elderly, especially nursing home residents. Death rates increased during the winter months.

When compared with all decedents, GUE decedents were more likely to have other medical conditions including bacteremia, volume depletion, renal failure, and HIV or AIDS.

Dr Frenzen concluded, "Fatal GUE often appeared to be infectious in origin, but death certificates provide insufficient information to determine whether the causative agents were unknown or foodborne".

"The accuracy of GUE reporting on death certificates and the etiology of fatal GUE merit further investigation."

J Infect Dis 2003; 187: 441-52
31 January 2003

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