Viruses are important causes of diarrhea. In healthy adults, the main clinical manifestation is acute, self-limited gastroenteritis. Advances in molecular diagnostics have shown that epidemics of acute gastroenteritis most frequently are due to caliciviruses spread through contaminated food or through person-to-person contact. Application of similar technology is needed to make a definitive statement about the role of such candidate viruses as rotavirus, astrovirus, and adenovirus as the cause of nonepidemic acute gastroenteritis in adults. Rarely a previously healthy adult gets acute CMV colitis. CMV and EBV mainly cause diarrhea in immunocompromised patients, however. Advances in prophylaxis and treatment have reduced the frequency and severity of these diseases. Acute infantile gastroenteritis is caused by rotavirus, calicivirus, astrovirus, and adenovirus. These viral diseases of the gut are seen by the physician as routine and rare clinical problems.
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