Far from the world’s fears about Ebola and MERS, a quiet revolution is taking place in the diagnosis of a disease much more prosaic but far more threatening: childhood diarrhea. After pneumonia, diarrhea is the deadliest threat to infants worldwide, killing about 700,000 every year.
More than 40 pathogens — viruses, bacteria and parasites — cause diarrhea in children in developing countries. According to decades-old guidelines from the World Health Organization, these children should receive oral rehydration; intravenous rehydration if they cannot keep fluids down; and a zinc supplement.
The guidelines also say that children should receive antibiotics only when there is blood in their stool. At the time the recommendations were written…
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