Acute diarrhoea is defined as frequent passage of loose or watery stools mixed with mucus and causes morbidity and mortality particularly in children. The scope of the book is to present information on acute diarrhoeal diseases in relation to clinical features, dehydration, management and prevention. When the stool contains blood, it is called dysentery. Acute diarrhoea is an ancient problem with tremendous public health significance. Acute diarrhoeal diseases comprise of acute watery diarrhoea and acute bloody diarrhoea (dysentery). The prototype of acute watery diarrhoea is cholera, while the same for dysentery is shigellosis. It caused extensive epidemics during flood, famine, war and earthquake when large number of people is shifted to refugee camps.
2. Disease burden
According to an estimate  by the World Health Organization, 3–5 million cholera and cholera-like cases occur worldwide, and 100,000–120,000 million cases die with a case-fatality rate of 2.25% (range 1–10%). This figure is actually grossly underestimated, because of under-reporting. These diseases, under the overarching syndrome of acute diarrhoea, cause tremendous pressure on the healthcare delivery system, and during epidemics and pandemics, this is compounded as a real public health problem. There have been seven pandemics (epidemic all over the world) of cholera which spread to more than 102 countries worldwide and killed millions of people.
3. New strain
An unprecedented happening occurred in the epidemiology of acute diarrhoea  when a novel strain of
Acute watery diarrhoea comprises of about 20–25 pathogens which fall under the categories of bacterial, viral and parasitic agents. The bacterial pathogens causing diarrhoea include
5. Cholera toxin and dehydration
The treatment of acute diarrhoea is based on the correction of fluid deficit and replacement of ongoing loses. Mild and moderate dehydration can be corrected by oral rehydration therapy [3, 4, 5, 6] using oral rehydration salt solution. On the other hand, intravenous fluid is required for the management of severe dehydration. The WHO recommended ORS containing sodium chloride of 2.5 g, potassium chloride of 1.5 g, sodium bicarbonate of 2.9 g and glucose of 20 g dissolved in 1 L of drinking water. ORS is given slowly particularly in children. If vomiting occurs, one has to wait 5–10 minutes and again start giving ORS very slowly. Recently, hypo-osmolar ORS has been recommended. On the clinical aspect of acute diarrhoea, new scoring method has been suggested. It has been reported that epileptic seizures are a manifestation of acute diarrhoea. This is a new area where lots of research may be done.
7. Role of antibiotics
Antibiotics are used in the treatment of acute diarrhoea only for severe cholera and shigellosis. Antibiotic therapy reduces the duration of diarrhoea/dysentery and hastens recovery. The antibiotics of choice for cholera are tetracycline or single dose (300 mg) of doxycycline. Norfloxacin and ciprofloxacin are effective. Herbal medicines may be effective in the treatment of acute diarrhoea. This mode of therapy will be cheap and safe.
8. Drug resistance
Drug-resistant strains of
Prevention of acute diarrhoea is a formidable challenge. These include sanitation, safe water and handwashing. Vaccination is an attractive disease prevention strategy. Health education plays a crucial role in the adoption of the strategy, particularly handwashing. This should start at the preschool level to form a habit in later life. Vaccination is an attractive disease prevention strategy. Recently, an oral cholera vaccine has been developed which has been found to protect up to 66% people among those vaccinated . Vaccines against
10. Final words
Finally, this book comprises of chapters of topics, which have significance in relation to clinical feature, dehydration, and management and prevention of acute diarrhoea. The reader will find the topics new, informative, and interesting.