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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2019 Mar;16(3):173-179. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2018.2545. Epub 2018 Dec 12.

Estimated Annual Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Emergency Department and Physician Office Visits from Foodborne Illness in Ontario.

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1 Public Health Ontario, Toronto, Canada.
2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


Public Health Ontario is working to estimate the burden of disease from environmental hazards in Ontario, Canada. As part of this effort, we estimated deaths and health care utilization resulting from exposure to pathogens and toxic substances in food. We applied fractions for the proportion of illness attributable to foodborne transmission to the annual (2008-2012) counts of deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) visits, and physician office visits for 15 diseases (13 pathogen-specific diseases and 2 nonspecific syndromes) captured by administrative health data. Nonspecific gastroenteritis (causative agent unknown) was the dominant disease, accounting for 98% of ED visits, 94% of hospitalizations, and 88% of deaths annually attributed to the 15 diseases. We estimated that foodborne nonspecific gastroenteritis results in ∼137,000 physician office visits (1000/100,000 population), 40,000 ED visits (310/100,000), 6200 hospitalizations (47/100,000), and 59 deaths (0.45/100,000) in Ontario per year (mean estimates). Our results indicate that pathogen-specific approaches to foodborne disease surveillance can substantially underestimate the deaths and illness resulting from exposure to foodborne pathogens and other causes of foodborne illness.


Canada; Ontario; burden of disease; foodborne illness; health care; public health; risk analysis

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