Acute diarrhoea can be caused by a number of different agents. Common infective causative agents include bacteria such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella, and viruses such as norovirus and rotavirus. Less common causative agents include those bacteria causing cholera, bacillary dysentery and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infection, etc. Acute diarrhoeal diseases may occur in all ages, but children are more often affected.
Patients with acute diarrhoeal diseases present with sudden onset of frequent loose or watery stools, often accompanied by vomiting and fever. The disease is usually mild with spontaneous recovery. Dehydration and shock may occur in severe cases.
Mode of transmission
Acute diarrhoeal diseases usually spread by contaminated hands or ingestion of contaminated food or drinks, and occasionally by aerosol spread with contaminated droplets of splashed vomitus. Outbreaks may occur in settings like institutions and child care centres.
The incubation period is usually a few hours to 5 days after exposure for bacterial diarrhoea and 1 - 3 days for viral diarrhoea.
Acute diarrhoeal diseases are usually managed by fluid and electrolyte replacement. Patient should consult his/her family doctor for proper management if the diarrhoea is severe. Self-medication is not advisable.
* Please visit the website of Centre for Food Safety for more information on food safety.