Abstract

Foodborne diseases caused by microorganisms are responsible for high levels of morbidity in the general population. The incidence of foodborne disease is difficult to estimate and is often underreported. Certain information about foodborne diseases tends to be more reliable when it is obtained from outbreak investigations. The aim of this study is to estimate the burden of foodborne disease outbreaks and to obtain the main trends in the evolution of this illness between 1994 and 2003, in Transylvania, Romania. In this study there were included 129 foodborne outbreaks reported by local health authorities from 10 counties of Transylvania, comprising a total of 9743 (100%) persons at risk (consumers), 2843 (29.18%) ill persons and 2114 (22%) hospitalized subjects. Seventy-six (59.38%) foodborne disease outbreaks were registered in rural area and 52 (40.62%) in urban area. The total number of foodborne outbreaks have maintained a constant annual trend; there are observed an decreasing trend (r = - 0.5) for general (community) outbreaks and an increasing trend (r = 0.64) for the family outbreaks. The trends of annual average of attack rates and of annual average of hospitalization rates with respect to the time, show an significant increasing evolution (r = 0.7 for attack rates, r = 0.8 for hospitalization rates). Monthly distribution for reported foodborne outbreaks manifested seasonality with a growing curve in the warm season. In terms of disease burden the most important pathogen was salmonellas implicated in 72 (56.25%) outbreaks; twenty eight outbreaks (21.88) had an unknown aetiology.

Keywords

Foodborne disease, Outbreaks, Salmonellas, Trends, Seasonality.