Human gastroenteritis is a multifactorial disease. It can be caused by viruses (Rotavirus, Adenovirus, Astrovirus, Norwalk virus, etc.), by bacteria such as Salmonella and by protozoan organisms such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
In infants under 1 year, diarrhoea has a viral aethiology in 45% of cases the percentage remaining as high as 40% up to the age of 4 years.
Of these viral gastroenteritis, Rotavirus is the most frequently implicated virus accounting for over 50%. Rotavirus is endemic in the human population ; in the Third World, it is a major cause of infant death as a result of dehydration. Although the consequences of Rotavirus enteritis is less severe in developed countries, it is still unpleasant and, because of its highly infectious nature, can spread rapidly amongst groups of children.