Each year in Canada there are 5 million episodes of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) with up to 70 % attributed to an unidentified pathogen. Moreover, 90 % of individuals with AGE do not seek care when ill, thus, burden of disease estimates are limited by under-diagnosing and under-reporting. Further, little is known about the pathogens causing AGE as the majority of episodes are attributed to an “unidentified” etiology. Our team has two main objectives: 1) to improve health through enhanced enteric pathogen identification; 2) to develop economic models incorporating pathogen burden and societal preferences to inform enteric vaccine decision making.
This project involves multiple stages: 1) Molecular microbiology experts will participate in a modified Delphi process designed to define criteria to aid in interpreting positive molecular enteric pathogen test results. 2) Clinical data and specimens will be collected from children aged 0–18 years, with vomiting and/or diarrhea who seek medical care in emergency departments, primary care clinics and from those who contact a provincial medical advice line but who do not seek care. Samples to be collected will include stool, rectal swabs (N = 2), and an oral swab. Specimens will be tested employing 1) stool culture; 2) in-house multiplex (N = 5) viral polymerase chain reaction (PCR) panel; and 3) multi-target (N = 15) PCR commercially available array. All participants will have follow-up data collected 14 days later to enable calculation of a Modified Vesikari Scale score and a Burden of Disease Index. Specimens will also be collected from asymptomatic children during their well child vaccination visits to a provincial public health clinic. Following the completion of the initial phases, discrete choice experiments will be conducted to enable a better understanding of societal preferences for diagnostic testing and vaccine policy. All of the results obtained will be integrated into economic models.
This study is collecting novel samples (e.g., oral swabs) from previously untested groups of children (e.g., those not seeking medical care) which are then undergoing extensive molecular testing to shed a new perspective on the epidemiology of AGE. The knowledge gained will provide the broadest understanding of the epidemiology of vomiting and diarrhea of children to date.||