Estimating the burden of acute gastroenteritis, foodborne disease, and pathogens commonly transmitted by food: An international review

James A. Flint*, Yvonne T. Van Duynhoven, Fredrick J. Angulo, Stephanie M. DeLong, Peggy Braun, Martyn Kirk, Elaine Scallan, Margaret Fitzgerald, Goutam Adak, Paul Sockett, Andrea Ellis, Gillian Hall, Neyla Gargouri, Henry Walke, Peter Braam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


The burden of foodborne disease is not well defined in many countries or regions or on a global level. The World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with other national public health agencies, is coordinating a number of international activities designed to assist countries in the strengthening of disease surveillance and to determine the burden of acute gastroenteritis. These data can then be used to estimate the following situations: (1) the burden associated with acute gastroenteritis of foodborne origin, (2) the burden caused by specific pathogens commonly transmitted by food, and (3) the burden caused by specific foods or food groups. Many of the scientists collaborating with the WHO on these activities have been involved in quantifying the burden of acute gastroenteritis on a national basis. This article reviews these key national studies and the international efforts that are providing the necessary information and technical resources to derive national, regional, and global burden of disease estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-704
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, PAHO, World Health Organization, Port of Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; 2Foodborne, Waterborne, and Zoonotic Infections Division, Public Health Agency of Canada, Guelph, and 3Foodborne, Waterborne, and Zoonotic Infections Division, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa; 4Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands; 5Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 6Division of International Health, Epidemiology Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; 7Leipzig University, Veterinary Faculty, Institute of Food Hygiene, Leipzig, Germany; 8OzFoodNet, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and 9National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; 10Department of Public Health, Eastern Regional Health Authority, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; 11Gastrointestinal Diseases Department, Health Protection Agency Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London, United Kingdom 12Field Epidemiology Training Program, Directorate for Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Jordan; 13Foodborne Disease Surveillance, Emerging Public Health Risks Including Drug Resistance, Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Funding Information:
IID Study (Public Health Laboratory Service; the Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework; and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Funding Information:
WHO Global Salm-Surv. Launched in January 2000, the WHO Global Salm-Surv is an international capacity-building program that strengthens national laboratory-based surveillance and outbreak detection of and response to diseases commonly transmitted by food. It is coordinated by the WHO, the Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Reseau International des Instituts Pasteur, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Animal Sciences Group (The Netherlands), US Food and Drug Administration, Enter-net, and OzFoodNet (Australia) [2]. The core elements include international training courses, an electronic discussion group, a Web site [3], an external quality-assurance system, a country databank of the top 15 annual Salmonella serotypes, focused regional and national projects, and reference-testing services. Through 2004, 26 training courses for microbiologists, epidemiologists, and managers have involved ∼350 participants from 190 countries. By enhancing laboratory-based surveillance, WHO Global Salm-Surv is helping countries establish a foundation on which to estimate the burden of foodborne disease.


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