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

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-6-307

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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.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.The results corroborate those from previous Canadian and international studies, highlighting the substantial burden of acute GI.Gastrointestinal illness (GI) is a global public health concern. In developed countries, GI is typically mild and self-limiting, but has considerable economic impact due to high morbidity [1-3]. Recent studies on the burden of GI in the general population of a number of countries have been reported [4-12]. To estimate the burden of GI in the Canadian population, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC; formerly Health Canada) developed the National Studies on Acute Gastrointestinal Illness (NSAGI) initiative in 2000. Population-based studies, designed to describe self-reported, acute GI in selected Canadian populations, are part of this initiative. In March 2002, the PHAC completed the first such population study in the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada [13]. In order to determine if the burden of GI was the same across the country, a second population study was completed in the province of British Columbia (BC) in June 2003. Additionally, since public health in Canada is primarily a provincial responsibility, this study was conducted to provide information to BC policy makers. The current paper describes the frequen


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