Characteristics of Campylobacter and Salmonella Infections and Acute Gastroenteritis in Older Adults in Australia, Canada, and the United States

Alice E. White*, Nadia Ciampa, Yingxi Chen, Martyn Kirk, Andrea Nesbitt, Beau B. Bruce, Elaine Scallan Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    The early detection of enteric infections in older adults is challenging because typical signs and symptoms of disease may be less common, absent, or overlooked. Understanding illness characteristics of enteric infections among older adults could improve the timeliness and accuracy of clinical diagnoses, thereby improving patient outcomes and increasing cases reported to surveillance. Methods: Here, we describe illness characteristics (percentage reporting bloody diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain; percentage hospitalized; duration of hospitalization; and duration of illness) among older adults (≥65 years) with acute gastroenteritis and culture-confirmed Campylobacter and nontyphoidal Salmonella infections in Australia, Canada, and the United States and compare these characteristics with those among younger people (<5 years, 5-24 years, and 25-64 years). Results: A significant negative correlation was found between all symptoms and increasing age group, except for bloody diarrhea in cases of acute gastroenteritis. Adults aged ≥85 years reported bloody diarrhea in only 9% of nontyphoidal Salmonella and 4% of Campylobacter infections compared with 59% and 55% among children aged <5 years. Conversely, a greater percentage of older adults (≥65) than younger persons (<5, 5-24, 25-64) reported being hospitalized, with an increasing linear relationship in age groups 65 years and older. Conclusions: Although older adults are more likely to have severe illness and be hospitalized, we found that the proportion of persons reporting symptoms typically associated with enteric infections decreases with age. These findings have implications for clinical recognition and treatment of gastrointestinal illness, as well as for public health research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1545-1552
    Number of pages8
    JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


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