Viruses, Bacteria and Parasites in the Digestive Tract in Children

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact Us

  • 617-355-6058
  • International: +1-617-355-5209
  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • 300 Longwood Ave. Boston, MA 02115


Viruses, bacteria and parasites are living organisms that are found all around us. They exist in water and soil, on the surfaces of foods that we eat and on surfaces that we touch, such as countertops in the bathroom or kitchen. Bacteria, viruses and parasites can cause illnesses and infect any of the organs of the body. Viruses are often responsible for respiratory illnesses (such as the common cold) and digestive illnesses (such as diarrhea). Bacteria can infect any part of the body, but often cause diarrhea when they invade the digestive tract.

  • Bacteria and parasites can usually be destroyed with antibiotics; antibiotics can't kill viruses.
  • Diarrhea can cause serious dehydration.
  • You can catch bacteria, parasites or a virus from consuming contaminated food or water, or from coming in contact with an infected surface.
  • Most common types include E. coli, Salmonella, rotavirus, Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
  • Best prevention methods are washing your child's hands thoroughly and cooking and storing food properly.

click to see larger image

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944