Gastrointestinal infections are viral, bacterial or parasitic infections that cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract involving both the stomach and the small intestine. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection, and less commonly parasitic infection. The most common causes of viral gastroenteritis are norovirus and rotavirus. Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella and Campylobacter are the most common causes of bacterial gastroenteritis.
- Giardiasis. Giardia is a parasite that spreads easily through human contact and contaminated water. It’s resistant to chlorine and can spread in public swimming pools. Infection can occur from drinking water from and bathing in contaminated lakes and streams.
- Cryptosporidiosis. A leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States, Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite which causes cryptosporidiosis. It has an outer shell that helps it survive outside of a host and tolerate chlorine disinfection.
See your doctor right away if you:
- have a fever above 104°F (40°C)
- have an inability to keep liquids down for 24 hours
- are vomiting for more than 48 hours
- are vomiting blood
- are becoming dehydrated: excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urine (or deep yellow urine), extreme weakness, lightheadedness or dizziness
- have blood in your bowel movements
See your pediatrician right away if your child:
- has a fever of above 102°F (39°C)
- is experiencing a lot of discomfort or pain
- appears lethargic
- is very irritable
- has bloody diarrhea
- appears dehydrated
To tell if your child is dehydrated, you can monitor how much they’re drinking and urinating and compare to their typical amount.
Get your baby to their pediatrician right away if they:
- have been vomiting (not just normal spitting up) for more than several hours
- have a dry mouth
- haven’t had a wet diaper in six hours
- cries without tears
- has severe diarrhea
- has bloody stools
- is unresponsive
- is unusually drowsy or sleepy
- has a sunken soft spot on the top of their head