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Int J Infect Dis. 2006 Jul;10(4):298-308. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Etiology and epidemiology of diarrhea in children in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi, Vietnam.



This paper provides a preliminary picture of diarrhea with regards to etiology, clinical symptoms, and some related epidemiologic factors in children less than five years of age living in Hanoi, Vietnam.


The study population included 587 children with diarrhea and 249 age-matched healthy controls. The identification of pathogens was carried out by the conventional methods in combination with ELISA, immunoseparation, and PCR. The antibiotic susceptibility was determined by MIC following the NCCLS recommendations.


Of those with diarrhea, 40.9% were less than one year old and 71.0% were less than two years old. A potential pathogen was identified in 67.3% of children with diarrhea. They were group A rotavirus, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, Shigella spp, and enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, with prevalences of 46.7%, 22.5%, 4.7%, and 7.3%, respectively. No Salmonella spp or Vibrio cholerae were isolated. Rotavirus and diarrheagenic E. coli were predominant in children less than two years of age, while Shigella spp, and enterotoxigenic B. fragilis were mostly seen in the older children. Diarrheagenic E. coli and Shigella spp showed high prevalence of resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Children attending the hospitals had fever (43.6%), vomiting (53.8%), and dehydration (82.6%). Watery stool was predominant with a prevalence of 66.4%, followed by mucous stool (21.0%). The mean episodes of stools per day was seven, ranging from two to 23 episodes. Before attending hospitals, 162/587 (27.6%) children had been given antibiotics. Overall, more children got diarrhea in (i) poor families; (ii) families where piped water and a latrine were lacking; (iii) families where mothers washed their hands less often before feeding the children; (iv) families where mothers had a low level of education; (v) families where information on health and sanitation less often reached their households.


Group A rotavirus, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, Shigella spp, and enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis play an important role in causing diarrhea in children in Hanoi, Vietnam. Epidemiological factors such as lack of fresh water supply, unhygienic septic tank, low family income, lack of health information, and low educational level of parents could contribute to the morbidity of diarrhea in children.

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