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Fluid Replacement and Heat Stress, 1993

Pp. 111-115. Washington, D.C.

National Academy Press


Acute Diarrheal Diseases

Robert Whang1


Diarrheal diseases represent an enormous health problem worldwide. The annual economic impact of these diseases represents significant losses that can be measured in the billion of dollars of lost productivity and the loss of health resources necessary to treat diarrheal diseases. Mortality in the young and the loss of economic potential from these premature deaths are inestimable when one factors in the morbidity, pain, and suffering resulting from these diseases. Diarrhea can be defined as two to three times the usual number of bowel movements having a liquid consistency, or diarrheal stool can be defined as one that assumes the shape of the container (Samadi et al., 1983). On a worldwide basis it is estimated that 750 million to 1 billion cases occur annually among children under 5 years of age, accounting for between 3 million and 6 million deaths. Diarrheal diseases are second only to respiratory disease in frequency and prevalence in underdeveloped countries (Gorbach and Hoskins, 1980). The success or failure of military campaigns from antiquity to modern times has been influenced by the presence or absence of diarrheal diseases. In recent times, for the years 1966 to 1968, the U.S. Army in Vietnam had peak months with an annualized rate of 70 cases per 1,000 (Ognibene and Barrett, 1982).


Robert Whang, Chief, Medical Service, Veteran's Administration Hospital, 921 N.E. 13th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73104

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