The microbial flora of the jejunal lumen of 28 infants with acute gastroenteritis was compared with that of a group of 10 normal infants. The jejunum of control subjects harboured an “oral” type of flora and in a few instances enterobacteria in small numbers. The concentrations of all but one of the groups of organisms were higher in the patients than in controls, and the differences were of statistical significance for enterobacteria and lactobacilli. In eight subjects, the same pathogen was identified in the jejunum and the stool. In six subjects with rotavirus infection, there were almost no Gram-negative aerobic rods in the jejunum. The possible role of other Gram-negative aerobic rods in producing gastroenteritis is discussed. It is suggested that studies of jejunal flora are of considerable importance in assigning an aetiological role to bacteria in the causation of acute gastroenteritis.


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