Impact of co-infections with enteric pathogens on children suffering from acute diarrhea in southwest China

Shun Xian Zhang, Yong Ming Zhou, Wen Xu, Li Guang Tian, Jia Xu Chen, Shao Hong Chen, Zhi Sheng Dang, Wen Peng Gu, Jian Wen Yin, Emmanuel Serrano, Xiao Nong Zhou

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    © 2016 The Author(s). Background: Acute diarrhea is a global health problem, resulting in high morbidity and mortality in children. It has been suggested that enteric pathogen co-infections play an important role in gastroenteritis, but most research efforts have only focused on a small range of species belonging to a few pathogen groups. This study aimed to assess the impact of co-infections with a broad range of enteric pathogens on children aged below five years who suffer from acute diarrhea in southwest China. Method: A total of 1020 subjects (850 diarrhea cases and 170 healthy controls) were selected from four sentinel hospitals in Kunming, Yunnan province, southwest China, from June 2014 to July 2015. Stool specimens were collected to detect five virus (rotavirus group A, RVA; norovirus, NoV; Sapovirus, SaV; astrovirus, As; and adenovirus, Ad), seven bacterial (diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, DEC; non-typhoidal Salmonella, NTS; Shigella spp.; Vibrio cholera; Vibrio parahaemolyticus; Aeromonas spp.; and Plesiomonas spp.), and three protozoan (Cryptosporidium spp., Giardia lamblia, and Blastocystis hominis, B. hominis) species using standard microbiologic and molecular methods. Data were analyzed using the partial least square regression technique and chi-square test. Results: At least one enteric pathogen was detected in 46.7% (n = 397) of acute gastroenteritis cases and 13.5% (n = 23) of healthy controls (χ2 = 64.4, P < 0.05). Single infection with RVA was associated with acute diarrhea (26.5% vs. 5.8%, P < 0.05). The prevalence of a single infection with B. hominis in diarrhea cases was higher than in healthy controls (3.1% vs. 0.5%, OR = 4.7, 95 % CI: 1.01-112.0). Single infection with NoV GII was not associated with diarrhea (4.4% vs. 3.5%, OR = 1.2, 95 % CI: 0.5-3.3). Single infections with bacterial species were not observed. The prevalence of co-infections with two enteric pathogens in diarrhea cases was higher than in asymptomatic children (20.1% vs. 5.3%, P < 0.05). RVA-NoV GII was the most common co-infection in symptomatic children (4.4%), with it aggravating the severity of diarrhea. Conclusions: Although it is clear that RVA has an overwhelming impact on diarrhea illnesses in children, co-infection with other enteric pathogens appears to also aggravate diarrhea severity. These findings should serve as evidence for public health services when planning and developing intervention programs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number64
    JournalInfectious Diseases of Poverty
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2016


    • Bacteria
    • Children
    • China
    • Co-infection
    • Diarrhea
    • Intestinal protozoa
    • Kunming
    • Severity
    • Virus
    • Yunnan


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