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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2013 Jul;32(7):909-15. doi: 10.1007/s10096-013-1825-9. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

Coinfection in acute gastroenteritis predicts a more severe clinical course in children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome, Italy.


The objectives of this study were to determine the incidence of enteric pathogens causing acute gastroenteritis (AGE) among hospitalized children in a large Italian hospital, to measure the incidence of coinfections, and to compare the clinical characteristics of those infected with one versus multiple agents. A prospective study was conducted from March 2010 to April 2011 at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, Italy. All patients between 1 month and 16 years of age admitted to the Pediatric Department with a diagnosis of AGE were eligible for enrollment. Two stool samples for each patient were tested for gastrointestinal pathogens. We summarized the clinical severity of episodes, describing the duration of diarrhea, duration and frequency of vomiting, fever, and severity of dehydration. All the patients underwent medical evaluation with estimation of dehydration. One or more etiological agents were detected in 151 out of 232 patients (65.1%), while we did not detect any etiological agent in 81 (34.9%). Rotavirus was detected in 96 (63.6%), adenovirus in 17 (11.2%), norovirus in 7 (4.6%), toxin-producing Clostridium difficile in 23 (15.2%), Salmonella spp. in 15 (9.9%, B group in 12/15 and D group in 3/15), C. perfringens in 12 (7.9%), Campylobacter spp. in 6 (4%), and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) in 2 (1.3%). In 27 children out of 151 (17.9%), we found evidence of coinfection. Coinfection with rotavirus and toxin-producing C. difficile was the most common (63%). Children with coinfection had a more severe clinical presentation and had a higher probability to be severely dehydrated, independently of age and living community type.

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