Tracking Cholera through Surveillance of Oral Rehydration Solution Sales at Pharmacies: Insights from Urban Bangladesh

Andrew Azman, Justin T Lessler, Syed Moinuddin Satter, Michael V. Mckay, Azharul Khan, Dilruba Ahmed, Emily Gurley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: In Bangladesh, pharmacy-purchased oral rehydration solution (ORS) is often used to treat diarrhea, including cholera. Over-the-counter sales have been used for epidemiologic surveillance in the past, but rarely, if ever, in low-income countries. With few early indicators for cholera outbreaks in endemic areas, diarrhea-related product sales may serve as a useful surveillance tool. Methodology/Principal Findings: We tracked daily ORS sales at 50 pharmacies and drug-sellers in an urban Bangladesh community of 129,000 for 6-months while simultaneously conducting surveillance for diarrhea hospitalizations among residents. We developed a mobile phone based system to track the sales of ORS and deployed it in parallel with a paper-based system. Our objectives were to determine if the mobile phone system was practical and acceptable to pharmacists and drug sellers, whether data were reported accurately compared to a paper-based system, and whether ORS sales were associated with future incidence of cholera hospitalizations within the community. We recorded 47,215 customers purchasing ORS, and 315 hospitalized diarrhea cases, 22% of which had culture-confirmed cholera. ORS sales and diarrhea incidence were independently associated with the mean daily temperature; therefore both unadjusted and adjusted models were explored. Through unadjusted cross-correlation statistics and generalized linear models, we found increases in ORS sales were significantly associated with increases in hospitalized diarrhea cases up to 9-days later and hospitalized cholera cases up to one day later. After adjusting for mean daily temperature, ORS was significantly associated with hospitalized diarrhea two days later and hospitalized cholera one day later. Conclusions/Significance: Pharmacy sales data may serve as a feasible and useful surveillance tool. Given the relatively short lagged correlation between ORS sales and diarrhea, rapid and accurate sales data are key. More work is needed in creating actionable algorithms that make use of this data and in understanding the generalizability of our findings to other settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0004230
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Volume9
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 7 2015

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Rehydration Solutions
Bangladesh
Cholera
Fluid Therapy
Pharmacies
Diarrhea
Cell Phones
Hospitalization
Epidemiological Monitoring
Temperature
Incidence
Pharmacists
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Disease Outbreaks
Linear Models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

Cite this

Tracking Cholera through Surveillance of Oral Rehydration Solution Sales at Pharmacies : Insights from Urban Bangladesh. / Azman, Andrew; Lessler, Justin T; Satter, Syed Moinuddin; Mckay, Michael V.; Khan, Azharul; Ahmed, Dilruba; Gurley, Emily.

In: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol. 9, No. 12, e0004230, 07.12.2015.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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