Epidemiology and Infection

Gastroenteritis

Assessment of the underestimation of childhood diarrhoeal disease burden in Israel

T. ZIVa1, A. D. HEYMANNa1a2a3, J. AZURIa2a3, M. LESHNOa4a5 and D. COHENa1 c1

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

a2 Department of Family Medicine, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

a3 Department of Community Medicine, Maccabi Health Care Services, Tel Aviv, Israel

a4 Recanati Faculty of Management, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel

a5 Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel

SUMMARY

We determined the extent by which mandatory reporting on isolates of Shigella and Salmonella underestimates the burden of diarrhoeal diseases in individuals aged <17 years in Israel and examined paediatricians' knowledge, attitudes and practices related to patient visits with diarrhoeal diseases. Sources of data were a nationwide population-based telephone survey for presence of diarrhoeal diseases, Maccabi Healthcare Services databases and a mail survey among its paediatricians. Monte Carlo simulation and rate estimates for all stages, from visit to physician to reporting on a culture-confirmed case of shigellosis or salmonellosis, were used to determine the underestimation factor. Of 1492 children, 5·7% reported a diarrhoeal episode during the 2 weeks prior to interview. The rate of visiting a physician with and without fever was 86% and 16%, respectively. A stool culture was performed for around 20% of patients and the isolation rates were 7·1% for Shigella and 2·1% for Salmonella. Paediatricians (n=214) ranked very young age of patient and the complaint ‘bloody diarrhoea’ as the most important determinants. We estimated that one reported isolate of Shigella or Salmonella represented 152 diarrhoeal episodes of all aetiologies. This estimate is important for further assessments of the true burden of diarrhoeal diseases.

(Accepted October 13 2010)

(Online publication November 19 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: D. Cohen, Ph.D., Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, P.O.B. 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel. (Email: dancohen@post.tau.ac.il)

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