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Gastroenteritis results through infection of the digestive tract usually by a virus and occasionally by bacteria. The usual virus in children is called a rotavirus. Possible causes of bacterial gastroenteritis vary in different parts of the world but in the developed world are most commonly down to non-specific food contamination or just occasionally salmonella. Internationally and in the undeveloped world there are many more virulent bacterial infections e.g. cholera which are far more devastating in their results.The infection has its effect by irritating the gastrointestinal tract; this responds by pouringfluid into the contents and stimulating muscle activity to push the contents through quickly. This gives rise to the diarrhoea, while biochemical irritation of the vomiting centre in the brain causes the repeated vomiting which is such a commonfeature of gastroenteritis.

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