The criteria used when GPs submit stool specimens for microbiological investigation are unknown.
To determine what criteria GPs use to send stool specimens, and if they are consistent with national guidance, and whether GPs would prescribe an antibiotic before they receive a result.
Design and setting
Questionnaire survey of 974 GPs in 172 surgeries in England.
GPs were sent a questionnaire (23 questions) based on national guidance.
Questionnaires were returned by 90% (154/172) of surgeries and 49% (477/968) of GPs. GPs reported sending stool specimens in about 50% of cases of suspected infectious diarrhoea, most commonly because of individual symptoms, rather than public health implications. Fewer considered sampling with antibiotic-associated diarrhoea post hospitalisation, or children with acute, painful, bloody diarrhoea; only 14% mentioned outbreaks as a reason. Nearly one-half of GPs reported they would consider antibiotics in suspected cases of Escherichia coli O157, which is contraindicated. Only 23% of GPs would send the recommended three specimens for ova, cysts, and parasites (OCP) examination. Although 89% of GPs gave some verbal advice on how to collect stool specimens, only 2% of GPs gave patients any written instructions.
GPs need more education to address gaps in knowledge about the risks and diagnosis of different infections in suspected infectious diarrhoea, especially Clostridium difficile post-antibiotics, E. coli O157, and requesting OCPs. Advice on reports, tick boxes, or links to guidance on electronic request forms may facilitate this.
antibiotics; diarrhoea; E. coli O157; general practice; guidance; investigation
A remarkable decline in nontyphoidal salmonellosis in the United Kingdom since the late 1990s coincides closely with the introduction of voluntary vaccination programs in broiler-breeder and laying flocks, demonstrating the success of this concerted, industry-led public health action.
Remarkable changes in the epidemiology of human nontyphoidal salmonellosis have occurred in the United Kingdom over the last century. Between 1981 and 1991, the incidence of nontyphoidal salmonellosis in the United Kingdom rose by >170%, driven primarily by an epidemic of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Enteritidis phage type (PT) 4, which peaked in 1993. Measures introduced to control this epidemic included legislation, food safety advice, and an industry-led vaccination program in broiler-breeder and laying poultry flocks. The incidence of Salmonella Enteritidis has been falling since 1997, and levels of Salmonella Enteritidis PT4 have fallen to preepidemic levels and have stayed low. The temporal relationship between vaccination programs and the reduction in human disease is compelling and suggests that these programs have made a major contribution to improving public health.
Salmonella; eggs; vaccination; food safety; public health
To assess the impact of ward or bay closures, specifically, whether prompt closure of an affected ward shortens the duration of norovirus outbreaks and the resulting disruption in hospitals.
Analysis of summary data from hospitals on outbreaks of norovirus from 2009 to 2012.
Using a large outbreak surveillance dataset, we examined the duration of outbreaks, duration of disruption, ward closures, the number of patients and staff affected and the number of lost bed-days, as functions of the timing of closure. We conducted Quasi-Poisson regression analyses to assess the effect of ward closure (timing of closure) on outcome measures, controlling for time of year (winter or summer), ward size and ward type (elderly care wards).
Regression analysis indicates that after controlling for season ward size and type, the duration of outbreak and duration of disruption were shorter, fewer patients were affected by the time of closure and fewer patients were affected overall, when closure occurred promptly (within 3 days of the first case becoming ill) compared with non-prompt closure groups. However, in outbreaks where wards were not closed, the length of outbreaks were similar to the prompt closure group and also had fewer patients and staff affected and fewer cases per day of outbreak compared with prompt closure.
Closing a bay or ward promptly in an outbreak of norovirus leads to a shorter duration of outbreaks, a shorter duration of disruption and fewer patients being affected compared with outbreaks where wards were not promptly closed. However, the interpretation of these results is not straightforward. The outbreaks where the ward was not closed at all have similar characteristics in terms of the duration of outbreak and fewer people were affected compared with the baseline prompt closure group.
Estimates of the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) vary widely, and a large proportion of patients report having consulted their general practitioner (GP). In patients with new onset gastrointestinal symptoms in primary care it might be possible to predict those at risk of persistent symptoms. However, one of the difficulties is identifying patients within primary care. GPs use a variety of Read Codes to describe patients presenting with IBS. Furthermore, in a qualitative study, exploring GPs’ attitudes and approaches to defining patients with IBS, GPs appeared reluctant to add the IBS Read Code to the patient record until more serious conditions were ruled out. Consequently, symptom codes such as 'abdominal pain’, 'diarrhoea’ or 'constipation’ are used. The aim of the current study was to investigate the prevalence of recorded consultations for IBS and to explore the symptom profile of patients with IBS using data from the Salford Integrated Record (SIR).
This was a database study using the SIR, a local patient sharing record system integrating primary, community and secondary care information. Records were obtained for a cohort of patients with gastrointestinal disorders from January 2002 to December 2011. Prevalence rates, symptom recording, medication prescribing and referral patterns were compared for three patient groups (IBS, abdominal pain (AP) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)).
The prevalence of IBS (age standardised rate: 616 per year per 100,000 population) was much lower than expected compared with that reported in the literature. The majority of patients (69%) had no gastrointestinal symptoms recorded in the year prior to their IBS. However a proportion of these (22%) were likely to have been prescribed NICE guideline recommended medications for IBS in that year. The findings for AP and IBD were similar.
Using Read Codes to identify patients with IBS may lead to a large underestimate of the community prevalence. The IBS diagnostic Read Code was rarely applied in practice. There are similarities with many other medically unexplained symptoms which are typically difficult to diagnose in clinical practice.
Irritable bowel syndrome; Read Codes; Functional gastrointestinal disorders; Medically unexplained symptoms; Primary care; General practitioners
Infectious intestinal disease (IID) is a major health and economic burden in high-income countries. In the UK, there are an estimated 17 million IID cases annually, of which 6 million are caused by the 12 most common pathogens. Host factors that influence risk of IID are not well understood.
We analyzed data from the IID2 Study, a UK cohort that measured IID incidence, to investigate factors associated with recurrent IID. We calculated rates of IID by age group, sex, previous episodes experienced, and socioecomic indicators. We used Cox models to investigate factors associated with recurrent illness.
The rate of IID was five times higher among infants than those aged 65 years and above (hazard ratio, HR = 5.0, 95% CI: 3.1 – 8.0). However, the association between previous IID and a subsequent IID episode was stronger in the elderly. Among those aged 65 years and above, each additional IID episode increased the rate of subsequent IID three-fold (HR = 3.1, 95% CI: 2.5 – 3.7). Among infants, the corresponding increase was 1.7-fold (HR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.3 – 2.3).
Elderly populations have a high propensity for recurrent IID. More detailed studies are needed to identify vulnerable subgroups and susceptibility factors, and inform adequate control policies among the elderly.
Diarrhoea; Diarrhoeal diseases; Infectious intestinal disease; Enteric pathogens; Elderly populations; Cohort studies
To assess the role of spatial proximity, defined as patients sharing bays, in the spread of norovirus during outbreaks in hospitals.
Enhanced surveillance of norovirus outbreaks between November 2009 and November 2011.
Data were gathered during 149 outbreaks of norovirus in hospital wards from five hospitals in two major cities in England serving a population of two million. We used the time between the first two cases of each outbreak to estimate the serial interval for norovirus in this setting. This distribution and dates of illness onset were used to calculate epidemic trees for each outbreak. We then used a permutation test to assess whether proximity, for all outbreaks, was more extreme than would be expected by chance under the null hypothesis that proximity was not associated with transmission risk.
65 outbreaks contained complete data on both onset dates and ward position. We estimated the serial interval to be 1.86 days (95% CI 1.6 to 2.2 days), and with this value found strong evidence to reject the null hypothesis that proximity was not significant (p<0.001). Sensitivity analysis using different values of the serial interval showed that there was evidence to reject the null hypothesis provided the assumed serial interval was less than 2.5 days.
Our results provide evidence that patients occupying the same bay as patients with symptomatic norovirus infection are at an increased risk of becoming infected by these patients compared with patients elsewhere in the same ward.
The estimated prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is 10%. Up to one third of patients develop chronic symptoms, which impact on everyday functioning and psychological wellbeing. Guidelines suggest an increased role for primary care in the management of patients with IBS, and referral for psychological interventions. Literature reports dissatisfaction and frustration experienced by both patients with IBS and healthcare professionals. The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of general practitioners (GPs) in relation to the diagnosis and management of IBS and their views on the potential use of a risk assessment tool to aid management decisions for patients with IBS in primary care.
This was a qualitative study using face-to-face semi-structured interviews with GPs in North West England. Interviews were fully transcribed and data analyzed using constant comparison across interviews. Tensions between GP accounts and the NICE guideline for the management of IBS were highlighted.
GPs described IBS as a diagnosis of exclusion and the process as tentative and iterative, with delay in adding a Read code to the patient record until they were confident of the diagnosis. Whilst GPs accepted there was a link between IBS and psychological symptoms they suggested that the majority of patients could be managed within primary care without referral for psychological interventions, in conflict with the NICE guideline. They did not feel that a risk assessment tool for patients with IBS would be helpful.
This study highlights the tensions between evidence recognizing the need to identify patients whose symptoms may become chronic and offer pro-active care, including referral for psychological therapies, and the perspectives of GPs managing patients in every-day clinical practice. The reluctance of GPs to refer patients for evidence-based psychological treatments may have implications for commissioning services and patient care.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders; Medically Unexplained Symptoms; NICE Guideline; Primary Care; General Practitioners
Campylobacter species are the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the developed world. However, comparatively few studies have determined the epidemiological features of campylobacteriosis in resource-poor settings.
A total of 1,941 faecal specimens collected from symptomatic (diarrhoeic) children and 507 specimens from asymptomatic (non-diarrhoeic) children hospitalised in Blantyre, Malawi, between 1997 and 2007, and previously tested for the presence of rotavirus and norovirus, was analysed for C. jejuni and C. coli using a real time PCR assay.
Campylobacter species were detected in 415/1,941 (21%) of diarrhoeic children, with C. jejuni accounting for 85% of all cases. The median age of children with Campylobacter infection was 11 months (range 0.1–55 months), and was significantly higher than that for children with rotavirus and norovirus (6 months and 7 months respectively; P<0.001). Co-infection with either rotavirus or norovirus was noted in 41% of all cases in the diarrhoeic group. In contrast, the detection rate of Campylobacter in the non-diarrhoeic group was 14%, with viral co-infection identified in 16% of children with Campylobacter. There was no association between Campylobacter detection rate and season over the 10 year period.
Using molecular detection methodology in hospitalised Malawian children, we have demonstrated a high prevalence of Campylobacter infection, with frequent viral co-infection. The burden of Campylobacter infection in young African children may be greater than previously recognised.
The risk for diarrhea-associated HUS was higher for children infected with Escherichia coli O157 phage type (PT) 2 and PT21/28 than for those infected with other PTs.
We conducted prospective surveillance of childhood hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) from 1997 to 2001 to describe disease incidence and clinical, epidemiologic and microbiologic characteristics. We compared our findings, where possible, with those of a previous study conducted from 1985 to 1988. The average annual incidence of HUS for the United Kingdom and Ireland (0.71/100,000) was unchanged from 1985 to 1988. The overall early mortality had halved, but the reduction in mortality was almost entirely accounted for by improved outcome in patients with diarrhea-associated HUS. The principal infective cause of diarrhea-associated HUS was Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli O157 (STEC O157), although in the 1997–2001 survey STEC O157 phage type (PT) 21/28 had replaced STEC O157 PT2 as the predominant PT. The risk of developing diarrhea-associated HUS was significantly higher in children infected with STEC O157 PT 2 and PT 21/28 compared with other PTs. Hypertension as a complication of HUS was greatly reduced in patients with diarrhea-associated HUS.
Morbidity; mortality; zoonoses; pediatrics; population surveillance; hemolytic uremic syndrome; diarrhea; Escherichia coli O157; United Kingdom; Ireland; gastroenteritis; research
Preventing campylobacteriosis depends on a thorough understanding of its epidemiology. We used case-case analysis to compare cases of Campylobacter coli infection with cases of C. jejuni infection, to generate hypotheses for infection from standardized, population-based sentinel surveillance information in England and Wales. Persons with C. coli infection were more likely to have drunk bottled water than were those with C. jejuni infection and, in general, were more likely to have eaten pâté. Important differences in exposures were identified for these two Campylobacter species. Exposures that are a risk for infection for both comparison groups might not be identified or might be underestimated by case-case analysis. Similarly, the magnitude or direction of population risk cannot be assessed accurately. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that case-control studies should be conducted at the species level.
Campylobacter; epidemiology; surveillance; hypothesis generation; risk
We know little about when and why general practitioners (GPs) submit stool specimens in patients with diarrhoea. The recent UK-wide intestinal infectious disease (IID2) study found ten GP consultations for every case reported to national surveillance. We aimed to explore what factors influence GP’s decisions to send stool specimens for laboratory investigation, and what guidance, if any, informs them.
We used qualitative methods that enabled us to explore opinions and ask open questions through 20 telephone interviews with GPs with a range of stool submission rates in England, and a discussion group with 24 GPs. Interviews were transcribed and subjected to content analysis.
Interviews: GPs only sent stool specimens to microbiology if diarrhoea persisted for over one week, after recent travel, or the patient was very unwell. Very few had a systematic approach to determine the clinical or public health need for a stool specimen. Only two GPs specifically asked patients about blood in their stool; only half asked about recent antibiotics, or potential food poisoning, and few asked about patients’ occupations. Few GPs gave patients advice on how to collect specimens.
Results from interviews and discussion group in relation to guidance: All reported that the HPA stool guidance and patient collection instructions would be useful in their clinical work, but only one GP (an interviewee) had previously accessed them. The majority of GPs would value links to guidance on electronic requests. Most GPs were surprised that a negative stool report did not exclude all the common causes of IID.
GPs value stool culture and laboratories should continue to provide it. Patient instructions on how to collect stool specimens should be within stool collection kits. Through readily accessible guidance and education, GPs need to be encouraged to develop a more systematic approach to eliciting and recording details in the patient’s history that indicate greater risk of severe infection or public health consequences. Mild or short duration IID (under one week) due to any cause is less likely to be picked up in national surveillance as GPs do not routinely submit specimens in these cases.
Stool specimens; Microbiology; Laboratory submission; Diarrhoea; Primary care; Qualitative; National guidance
In developed countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, between 15% and 20% of the population show greater susceptibility than the general population to foodborne disease. This proportion includes people with primary immunodeficiency, patients treated with radiation or with immunosuppressive drugs for cancer and diseases of the immune system, those with acquired immune-deficiency syndrome and diabetics, people suffering from liver or kidney disease or with excessive iron in the blood, pregnant women, infants, and the elderly. Malnutrition and use of antacids, particularly proton-pump inhibitors, also increase susceptibility. We review the occurrence of infection by foodborne pathogens in these groups of people and measures to prevent infection. The nature and use of low microbial diets to reduce the risk of foodborne disease in immunocompromised patients are very variable. Diets for vulnerable people in care should exclude higher-risk foods, and vulnerable people in the community should receive clear advice about food safety, in particular avoidance of higher-risk foods and substitution of safer, nutritious foods.
To estimate, overall and by organism, the incidence of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in the community, presenting to general practice (GP) and reported to national surveillance.
Prospective, community cohort study and prospective study of GP presentation conducted between April 2008 and August 2009.
Eighty-eight GPs across the UK recruited from the Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework and the Primary Care Research Networks.
6836 participants registered with the 88 participating practices in the community study; 991 patients with UK-acquired IID presenting to one of 37 practices taking part in the GP presentation study.
Main outcome measures
IID rates in the community, presenting to GP and reported to national surveillance, overall and by organism; annual IID cases and GP consultations by organism.
The overall rate of IID in the community was 274 cases per 1000 person-years (95% CI 254 to 296); the rate of GP consultations was 17.7 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 14.4 to 21.8). There were 147 community cases and 10 GP consultations for every case reported to national surveillance. Norovirus was the most common organism, with incidence rates of 47 community cases per 1000 person-years and 2.1 GP consultations per 1000 person-years. Campylobacter was the most common bacterial pathogen, with a rate of 9.3 cases per 1000 person-years in the community, and 1.3 GP consultations per 1000 person-years. We estimate that there are up to 17 million sporadic, community cases of IID and 1 million GP consultations annually in the UK. Of these, norovirus accounts for 3 million cases and 130 000 GP consultations, and Campylobacter is responsible for 500 000 cases and 80 000 GP consultations.
IID poses a substantial community and healthcare burden in the UK. Control efforts must focus particularly on reducing the burden due to Campylobacter and enteric viruses.
Campylobacter; diarrhoeal disease; epidemiology; infectious diarrhoea; salmonella
The epidemiology of listeriosis in England and Wales changed during 2001–2008; more patients >60 years of age had bacteremia than in previous years. To investigate these changes, we calculated risk for listeriosis by concurrent condition for non–pregnancy-associated listeriosis cases reported to the national surveillance system in England during 1999–2009. Conditions occurring with L. monocytogenes infection were coded according to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, and compared with appropriate hospital episode statistics inpatient denominator data to calculate incidence rates/million consultations. Malignancies (especially of the blood), kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, alcoholism, and age >60 years were associated with an increased risk for listeriosis. Physicians should consider a diagnosis of listeriosis when treating patients who have concurrent conditions. Providing cancer patients, who accounted for one third of cases, with food safety information might help limit additional cases.
Listeria monocytogenes; listeriosis; concurrent conditions; risk factors; bacteria; ICD-10; England; Wales; research; Suggested citation for this article: Mook P; O’Brien SJ; Gillespie IA. Concurrent conditions and human listeriosis; England and Wales; 1999–2009. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 Jan [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1701.101174
The purpose of Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) is to code various types of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) based on their anatomical location and severity. The Marshall CT Classification is used to identify those subgroups of brain injured patients at higher risk of deterioration or mortality. The purpose of this study is to determine whether and how AIS coding can be translated to the Marshall Classification
Initially, a Marshall Class was allocated to each AIS code through cross-tabulation. This was agreed upon through several discussion meetings with experts from both fields (clinicians and AIS coders). Furthermore, in order to make this translation possible, some necessary assumptions with regards to coding and classification of mass lesions and brain swelling were essential which were all approved and made explicit.
The proposed method involves two stages: firstly to determine all possible Marshall Classes which a given patient can attract based on allocated AIS codes; via cross-tabulation and secondly to assign one Marshall Class to each patient through an algorithm.
This method can be easily programmed in computer softwares and it would enable future important TBI research programs using trauma registry data.
Infectious intestinal disease (IID), usually presenting as diarrhoea and vomiting, is frequently preventable. Though often mild and self-limiting, its commonness makes IID an important public health problem. In the mid 1990s around 1 in 5 people in England suffered from IID a year, costing around £0.75 billion. No routine information source describes the UK's current community burden of IID. We present here the methods for a study to determine rates and aetiology of IID in the community, presenting to primary care and recorded in national surveillance statistics. We will also outline methods to determine whether or not incidence has declined since the mid-1990s.
The Second Study of Infectious Intestinal Disease in the Community (IID2 Study) comprises several separate but related studies. We use two methods to describe IID burden in the community - a retrospective telephone survey of self-reported illness and a prospective, all-age, population-based cohort study with weekly follow-up over a calendar year. Results from the two methods will be compared. To determine IID burden presenting to primary care we perform a prospective study of people presenting to their General Practitioner with symptoms of IID, in which we intervene in clinical and laboratory practice, and an audit of routine clinical and laboratory practice in primary care. We determine aetiology of IID using molecular methods for a wide range of gastrointestinal pathogens, in addition to conventional diagnostic microbiological techniques, and characterise isolates further through reference typing. Finally, we combine all our results to calibrate national surveillance data.
Researchers disagree about the best method(s) to ascertain disease burden. Our study will allow an evaluation of methods to determine the community burden of IID by comparing the different approaches to estimate IID incidence in its linked components.
Listeriosis is a rare but severe food-borne disease, affecting unborn or newly delivered infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. The epidemiology of listeriosis in England and Wales changed between 2001 and 2007, with more patients ≥60 years old presenting with bacteremia (but without central nervous system [CNS] involvement). In order to explain this increase and understand the altered disease presentation, clinical, microbiological, and seasonal data on bacteremic cases of Listeria monocytogenes infection identified through national surveillance were compared with those for patients with CNS infections. Logistic regression analysis was applied while controlling for age. Bacteremic patients, who presented more frequently with gastrointestinal symptoms, were more likely to have underlying medical conditions than CNS patients. This was most marked in patients with malignancies, particularly digestive organ malignancies. Treatment to reduce stomach acid secretion modified the effect of nonmalignant underlying conditions on outcome, i.e., patients with an underlying condition who were not taking acid-suppressing medication were equally likely to have a bacteremic or a CNS infection. However, this type of therapy did not modify the effect of malignancies on the likelihood of having a bacteremic or a CNS infection. The increase in the incidence of human listeriosis among patients ≥60 years old in England and Wales between 2001 and 2007 appears to have occurred in those with cancer or other conditions whose treatment included acid-suppressing medication. Therefore, this vulnerable patient group needs specific dietary advice on avoiding risk factors for listeriosis.
To explore hypotheses for age-related changes in the incidence of Campylobacter infections in England and Wales during 1990–2007, we analyzed electronic laboratory data. Disease incidence was reduced among children, and the greatest increase in risk was for those >60 years of age. Risk factors for campylobacteriosis in the elderly population should be identified.
Campylobacter; epidemiology; England; Wales; aging; bacteria; dispatch
Each of these factors increases risk for Campylobacter enteritis.
In a case–control study of Campylobacter spp. risk factors in England during 2005–2006, we identified recent consumption of commercially prepared chicken as an important risk factor. The risk for illness associated with recent chicken consumption was much lower for persons who regularly ate chicken than in those who did not, which suggests that partial immunologic protection may follow regular chicken preparation or consumption. Chicken-related risk factors accounted for 41% of cases; acid-suppressing medication, for 10%; self-reported past Campylobacter enteritis, 2%; and recent acquisition of a pet dog, 1%. Understanding the risks associated with chicken from different sources will benefit strategies to reduce Campylobacter infections. Better characterization of immune correlates for Campylobacter infection is necessary to assess the relative importance of immunity and behavioral factors in determining risk.
Campylobacter; infectious intestinal disease; food poisoning; bacteria; gastrointestinal infections; enteric diseases; diarrhea; England; risk factors; research
Serious injuries have been stated as a public health priority in the UK. However, there appears to be a lack of information on population-based rates of serious injury (as defined by a recognised taxonomy of injury severity) at national level from either official statistics or research papers. We aim to address this through a search and review of literature primarily focused within the UK and Europe.
The review summarizes research papers on the subject of population based injury epidemiology published from 1970 to 2008. We examined critically methodological approaches in measuring injury incident rates including data sources, description of the injury pyramid, matching numerator and denominator populations as well as the relationship between injury and socioeconomic status.
National representative rates come from research papers using official statistics sources, often focusing on mortality data alone. Few studies present data from the perspective of an injury pyramid or using a standardized measure of injury severity, i.e. Injury Severity Score (ISS). The population movement that may result in a possible numerator – denominator mismatch has been acknowledged in five research studies and in official statistics. The epidemiological profile shows over the past decades in UK and Europe a decrease in injury death rates. No major trauma population based rates are available within well defined populations across UK over recent time periods. Both fatal and non-fatal injury rates occurred more frequently in males than females with higher rates in males up to 65 years, then in females over 65 years. Road traffic crashes and falls are predominant injury mechanisms. Whereas a straightforward inverse association between injury death rates and socio-economic status has been observed, the evidence of socioeconomic inequalities in non-fatal injuries rates has not been wholly consistent.
New methodological approaches should be developed to deal with the study design inconsistencies and the knowledge gaps identified across this review. Trauma registries contain injury data from hospitals within larger regions and code injury by Abbreviated Injury Scale enabling information on severity; these may be reliable data sources to improve understanding of injury epidemiology.
Determining population-based rates for major injury poses methodological challenges. We used hospital discharge data over a 10-year period (1996–2005) from a national trauma registry, the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) Manchester, to construct valid numerators and denominators so that we can calculate population-based rates of major injury in the future.
We examined data from all hospitals reporting to TARN for continuity of numerator reporting; rates of completeness for patient postcodes, and clear denominator populations. We defined local market areas (>70% of patients originating from the same postcode district as the hospital). For relevant hospitals we assessed data quality: consistency of reporting, completeness of patient postcodes and for one selected hospital, North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary (NSRI), the capture rate of numerator data reporting. We used an established method based on patient flow to delineate market areas from hospitals discharges. We then assessed the potential competitors, and characterized these denominator areas. Finally we performed a denominator sensitivity analysis using a patient origin matrix based on Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) to validate our approach.
Sixteen hospitals met the data quality and patient flow criteria for numerator and denominator data, representing 12 hospital catchment areas across England. Data quality issues included fluctuations numbers of reported cases and poor completion of postcodes for some years. We found an overall numerator capture rate of 83.5% for the NSRI. In total we used 40,543 admissions to delineate hospital catchment areas. An average of 3.5 potential hospital competitors and 15.2 postcode districts per area were obtained. The patient origin matrix for NSRI confirmed the accuracy of the denominator/hospital catchment area from the patient flow analysis.
Large national trauma registries, including TARN, hold suitable data for determining population-based injury rates. Patient postcodes from hospital discharge allow identification of denominator populations using a market area approach.
A number of infectious agents have previously been suggested as risk factors for the development of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), but robust epidemiologic evidence for these associations is lacking.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a nested case-control study using data from the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database between 1991 and 2001. Controls were matched to cases on general practice clinic, sex, year of birth and date of outcome diagnosis in their matched case. We found positive associations between GBS and infection with Campylobacter, Epstein-Barr virus and influenza-like illness in the previous two months, as well as evidence of a protective effect of influenza vaccination. After correction for under-ascertainment of Campylobacter infection, the excess risk of GBS following Campylobacter enteritis was 60-fold and 20% of GBS cases were attributable to this pathogen.
Our findings indicate a far greater excess risk of GBS among Campylobacter enteritis patients than previously reported by retrospective serological studies. In addition, they confirm previously suggested associations between infection due to Epstein-Barr virus infection and influenza-like illness and GBS. Finally, we report evidence of a protective effect of influenza vaccination on GBS risk, which may be mediated through protection against influenza disease, or result from a lower likelihood of vaccination among those with recent infection. Cohort studies of GBS incidence in this population would help to clarify the burden of GBS due to influenza, and any potential protective effect of influenza vaccination.
TOC Summary line: Campylobacter, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and influenza (or influenza vaccination) act as infectious triggers for Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is the most common cause of acute flaccid paralysis in polio-free regions. Considerable evidence links Campylobacter infection with GBS, but evidence that implicates other pathogens as triggers remains scarce. We conducted a time-series analysis to investigate short-term correlations between weekly laboratory-confirmed reports of putative triggering pathogens and weekly hospitalizations for GBS in England from 1993 through 2002. We found a positive association between the numbers of reports of laboratory-confirmed influenza A in any given week and GBS hospitalizations in the same week. Different pathogens may trigger GBS in persons of different ages; among those <35 years, numbers of weekly GBS hospitalizations were associated with weekly Campylobacter and Mycoplasma pneumoniae reports, whereas among those >35 years, positive associations were with influenza. Further studies should estimate the relative contribution of different pathogens to GBS incidence, overall and by age group, and determine whether influenza is a real trigger for GBS or a marker for influenza vaccination.
Guillain-Barré syndrome; Campylobacter; influenza; Mycoplasma pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae; cytomegalovirus; Epstein-Barr virus; sequelae; polyradiculoneuropathy; time-series analysis; research
Disease Risks from Foods; England and Wales; 1996–2000