Gastro infections get more deadly in U.S., especially for elderly
- Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
- March 19, 2012 - 6:43 PM
Gastrointestinal infections are killing more and more people in the United States and have become a particular threat to the elderly.
Deaths from the infections more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, to more than 17,000 a year from 7,000 a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Of those who died, 83 percent were over age 65. Two thirds of the deaths were caused by a bacterium, Clostridium difficile, which people often contract in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly when they have been taking antibiotics. The bacteria have grown increasingly virulent and resistant to treatment in recent years.
But researchers were surprised to discover that the second leading cause of death from this type of illness was the norovirus. It causes a highly contagious infection, sometimes called winter vomiting illness, that can spread rapidly on cruise ships and in prisons, dormitories and hospitals. Read more from the New York Times here.
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