It’s not our imagination: Deaths from gastroenteritis are increasing

CMS confirms that gastroenteritis deaths have doubled in the past 10 years or so. Our friends, C. difficile and norovirus, are the leading causes.

Over the eight-year study period (1999-2007), CDC found that gastroenteritis-associated deaths from all causes increased from almost 7,000 to more than 17,000 per year. Adults over 65 years old accounted for 83 percent of deaths. Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and norovirus were the most common infectious causes of gastroenteritis-associated deaths.

Much of the recent increase in the incidence and mortality of C. difficile is attributed to the emergence and spread of a hypervirulent, resistant strain of C. difficile. This bug contributed to about two-thirds of the deaths.

Norovirus was associated with about 800 deaths annually, though there were 50 percent more deaths in years when epidemics were caused by new strains of the virus. Norovirus is highly contagious.

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