Pathophysiology: Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection where inflammation of the stomach and intestines occur from a virus. It is also known as “stomach flu”. This infection may lead to watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting, and fever. It occurs by contact with a diseased person or by intake of contaminated food or water.Clinicians have categorized it into: Sporadic gastroenteritis, Epidemic gastroenteritis (food-borne or water-borne pathogens), and Acute gastroenteritis.
Disease statistics: In Ireland, systematic surveillance of outbreaks of gastroenteritis or infectious intestinal disease (IID) commenced in 1998. From 1998 to 2000, there were 100 IID outbreaks reported of which 61 were considered to be foodborne (61%). In 2002 this figure has risen to 154 of 171 reported outbreaks of IID (90%) either confirmed or suspected to be caused by norovirus. In 2002, about 70% of norovirus outbreaks occurred in hospitals and other healthcare settings in Ireland.
Treatment: Viral gastroenteritis is diagnosed by physical exam such as stool sample to test for virus. There are no specific medical treatments and initially it involves lot of self-care measures. Antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses. The illness may be due to parasitic or bacterial infection. Primary goal is to prevent dehydration by providing enough water and fluids to the diseased body. Food is offered in small amounts. In case of small children, food is supplied intravenously.
Research: The major resrach for viral gastroenteritis in Ireland has been done by National Virus Reference Laboratory of University College Dublin. The study was supported by Ministry for Health and Children.