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.
- Norovirus. Noroviruses are the most common cause of foodborne illness worldwide. It’s especially likely to spread among people in confined spaces. Although in most cases the virus is spread through contaminated food or water, person-to-person transmission is also possible.
- Rotavirus. According to the Mayo Clinic, rotavirus is the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis in children worldwide. Children are commonly infected when they touch objects contaminated with the virus and then put their fingers in their mouths. There’s a rotavirus vaccine available in some countries.
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