Journal Article

Use of Stool Collection Kits Delivered to Patients Can Improve Confirmation of Etiology in Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

Timothy F. Jones, S. N. Bulens, S. Gettner, R. L. Garman, D. J. Vugia, D. Blythe, M. A. Hawkins, S. S. Monroe, F. J. Angulo and U. D. Parashar

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 10, pages 1454-1459
Published in print November 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online November 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/425319
Use of Stool Collection Kits Delivered to Patients Can Improve Confirmation of Etiology in Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

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Background. In 68% of foodborne disease outbreaks, no etiologic pathogen is identified. In two-thirds of outbreaks with no identified etiology, no stool specimens are submitted for testing.

Methods. From April 2001 to March 2003, we pilot-tested use of prepackaged, self-contained stool specimen collection kits in 3 states, delivered to and from patients by courier or mail, to improve rates of specimen collection in the outbreak setting. Specimens were tested for bacterial and viral pathogens at health department laboratories, and results were correlated with epidemiological investigation data.

Results. Specimens were returned by ⩾1 person in 52 (96%) of 54 outbreaks in which kits were deployed; in total, 263 (76%) of 347 persons who received kits returned specimens. Resolution of symptoms was the most commonly cited reason for nonsubmission of kits. An etiology was confirmed in 37 (71%) of 52 outbreaks with specimens returned; 28 (76%) were attributable to norovirus, and 9 (24%) were attributed to bacterial pathogens. Stool kits were well received and cost an average of ∼$43 per specimen returned.

Conclusions. In two-thirds of foodborne disease outbreaks in which delivered stool collection kits were successfully deployed, an etiologic organism was identified. Delivery of kits to and from patients to improve rates of stool collection in outbreaks in which specimens might otherwise not be submitted could substantially reduce the number of outbreaks with an unknown etiology.

Journal Article.  3492 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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