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Epidemiol Perspect Innov. 2008 Oct 31;5:6. doi: 10.1186/1742-5573-5-6.

Case-case analysis of enteric diseases with routine surveillance data: Potential use and example results.

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  • 1Departament of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. nick.wilson@otago.ac.nz



Case-control studies and outbreak investigations are the major epidemiological tools for providing detailed information on enteric disease sources and risk factors, but these investigations can be constrained by cost and logistics.


We explored the advantages and disadvantages of comparing risk factors for enteric diseases using the case-case method. The main issues are illustrated with an analysis of routine notification data on enteric diseases for 2006 collected by New Zealand's national surveillance system.


Our analyses of aggregated New Zealand surveillance data found that the associations (crude odds ratios) for risk factors of enteric disease were fairly consistent with findings from local case-control studies and outbreak investigations, adding support for the use of the case-case analytical approach. Despite various inherent limitations, such an approach has the potential to contribute to the monitoring of risk factor trends for enteric diseases. Nevertheless, using the case-case method for analysis of routine surveillance data may need to be accompanied by: (i) reduction of potential selection and information biases by improving the quality of the surveillance data; and (ii) reduction of confounding by conducting more sophisticated analyses based on individual-level data.


Case-case analyses of enteric diseases using routine surveillance data might be a useful low-cost means to study trends in enteric disease sources and inform control measures. If used, it should probably supplement rather than replace outbreak investigations and case-control studies. Furthermore, it could be enhanced by utilising high quality individual-level data provided by nationally-representative sentinel sites for enteric disease surveillance.

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