Population distribution and burden of acute gastrointestinal illness in British Columbia, Canada

Thomas, M. Kate; Majowicz, Shannon E.; MacDougall, Laura; Sockett, Paul N.; Kovacs, Suzie J.; Fyfe, Murray; Edge, Victoria L.; Doré, Kathryn; Flint, James A.; Henson, Spencer; Jones, Andria Q.
January 2006
BMC Public Health;2006, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p307
Academic Journal
Background: In developed countries, gastrointestinal illness (GI) is typically mild and self-limiting, however, it has considerable economic impact due to high morbidity. Methods: The magnitude and distribution of acute GI in British Columbia (BC), Canada was evaluated via a cross-sectional telephone survey of 4,612 randomly selected residents, conducted from June 2002 to June 2003. Respondents were asked if they had experienced vomiting or diarrhoea in the 28 days prior to the interview. Results: A response rate of 44.3% was achieved. A monthly prevalence of 9.2% (95%CI 8.4 - 10.0), an incidence rate of 1.3 (95% CI 1.1-1.4) episodes of acute GI per person-year, and an average probability that an individual developed illness in the year of 71.6% (95% CI 68.0-74.8), weighted by population size were observed. The average duration of illness was 3.7 days, translating into 19.2 million days annually of acute GI in BC. Conclusion: The results corroborate those from previous Canadian and international studies, highlighting the substantial burden of acute GI.


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