Differential features of foodborne gastroenteritis outbreaks of known and unknown etiology

A. Domínguez, S. Broner, N. Torner, A. Martínez, J. M. Jansà, J. Àlvarez, L. Barrabeig, J. Caylà, P. Godoy, S. Minguell, N. Camps, M. R. Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Foodborne diseases (FBD) are a major cause of disease and death, but their etiologies are not always known, Factors associated with determination of the etiologic agent of FBD outbreaks reported to the Department of Health in Catalonia (Spain) during 2002 to 2005 were studied. For each outbreak, the year, number of persons affected, hospitalization, and availability of samples from patients, food handlers, and foods were collected. The delay between the date of onset of symptoms of the second case and the report to the surveillance unit was calculated, The relationship between explanatory variables and determination of the cause of each outbreak was studied by logistic regression. The causal agent was identified in 242 (73.3%) of 330 outbreaks. Factors associated with determining the etiologic agent of the outbreak in the univariate analysis were availability of samples from cases (odd ratio [OR] of 6.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] of 3.2 to 11.1), hospitalization (OR of 5.1, 95% CI of 2.6 to 11.1), availability of samples from food handlers (OR of 2.7,95% CI of 1,6 to 4.5), size ≥ 10 cases (OR of 2.2, 95% CI of 1.3 to 3.2), availability of samples from food (OR of 1.8,95% CI of 1.1 to 3.0), and the last year (2005) of the study period (OR of 1.9, 95% CI of 1.0 to 3.6). In the multivariate analysis, hospitalization (adjusted OR of 5.1,95% CI of 2.4 to 11.2), size ≥ 10 cases (adjusted OR of 2.1, 95% CI of 1.2 to 3.7), and the year 2005 (OR of 2.1, 95% CI of 1.1 to 4.0) remained associated. Collection and processing of clinical samples from cases and appropriate laboratory diagnoses of all possible etiologies of FBD, including viruses, are very important. Efforts by physicians and public health services to coordinate and improve their activity in these areas may help provide more accurate knowledge concerning the etiologies of FBD outbreaks and lead to more effective preventive procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1958-1962
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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