What causes intestinal infections?

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Robert L. Moesinger, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)

Intestinal infections are probably second only to respiratory infection in terms of how common they are. Intestinal infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Almost all of these infections are caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water or from contact with unwashed hands. Prevention is best done by frequent hand washing, appropriate food and water handling, and one of the most common intestinal infections--rotavirus--can be prevented with a vaccine. The most common intestinal infections in the Utah area are rotavirus and other viruses. Salmonella and shigella are bacterial infections which are much more severe but far less common. Giardia, a parasite, is endemic in Utah mountains and is seen fairly frequently in backpackers or others who do not adequately purify their water in the "back country". Cryptosporidium, another parasite, was in the news a few years ago as it was transmitted in swimming pools.

Continue Learning about Viral Infections

Viral Infections

Viral Infections

Viral infections like herpes simplex, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), chicken pox and rotavirus are infections caused by a virus instead of a bacterium. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, but some specific viruses ...

like influenza A and B can be treated with certain antiviral medications. Most commonly, treatment for viral infections includes drinking lots of fluids, getting rest, eating well and letting the illness run its course.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.