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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(4):399-404.

A community-based study of respiratory episodes in Melbourne, Australia.

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Central and Eastern Clinical School, Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004.



To provide recent data regarding the epidemiology of community-based respiratory infections in Australia.


A longitudinal study between 1997-99 involving collection of a health diary from 600 families in Melbourne.


More than 80% of study participants reported at least one respiratory episode over 15 months. An average of 2.2 respiratory episodes per person per year was reported, with a mean episode duration of 6.3 days. On average, subjects were symptomatic for 4.2% of the study days. Compared with other age groups, children aged less than two years were most likely to have at least one respiratory episode, a greater number of episodes per person and the longest episode duration (6.8 days). Approximately, one in three (28.7%) respiratory episodes were associated with a doctor's visit, and one in four (23%) necessitated time off school or work. Exposure to other people with respiratory symptoms was commonly reported.


Respiratory infections are common, cause a significant amount of morbidity, and are major contributors to the total community health burden.


The direct and indirect costs of respiratory infections to the community are substantial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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