Descriptive epidemiology of persistent diarrhoea among young children in rural northern India

M. K. Bhan, N. Bhandari, S. Sazawal, J. Clemens, P. Raj, M. M. Levine, J. B. Kaper

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103 Scopus citations


In order to determine the descriptive epidemiology of persistent diarrhoea in rural northern India, a cohort of 963 children aged 0-71 months was followed prospectively for 12 months through weekly household visits. The incidence of persistent diarrhoea was 6.3 per 100 child-years among those aged 0-71 months, and was highest (31 per 100 child-years) among those aged 0-11 months. There were no significant sex-related differences in the incidence of the disease, and the overall seasonal distribution of acute and persistent diarrhoea was similar. The persistence of diarrhoeal symptoms was significantly correlated with a higher initial mean stool frequency (P < 0.01) and passage of gross blood with stools (P < 0.001). Persistent diarrhoea was an important problem among children during the first 2 years of life. Established enteric pathogens were isolated during the initial illness in 46.4% of persistent and 55.4% of acute episodes. Pathogens isolated during persistent episodes included enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC 9.3%), Salmonella spp. (4.7%), as well as Campylobacter (4.7%), Shigella spp. (2.3%), Entamoeba histolytica (2.3%), and rotavirus (2.3%). Similar proportions of these pathogens were isolated also during episodes of acute diarrhoea. Multiple pathogens were isolated in 7% of the persistent and 5% of the acute episodes. E. coli that manifested aggregative adherence (EAEC-A) was more common (34.9% versus 12.3%) in persistent than acute episodes (P < 0.01), and initial faecal excretion of EAEC-A was significantly associated with the persistence of a diarrhoeal episode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of the World Health Organization
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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