Stomach Flu Wreaking Havoc

Oct 1 – Stomach Flu wreaking havoc in our Corozal schools and community. (Stock Photo) - The economic burden caused by Acute Gastroenteritis (AGI), also known as Stomach Flu, is estimated at over $18 million countrywide, according to data released by the Ministry of Health.

The ministry released some of the findings from the Burden of Illness (BOI) research study on AGI and causes of food borne illness in Belize last week. The study was done in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

The impact on the public health system alone is estimated at $6.2 million annually, when considering basic medical services, supplies, hospitalization, and the need for care-giver services.

Loss of income due to unproductive days is estimated at $10.9 million, and patients are estimated to lose some $4 million annually due to being out of work.

Englebert Emmanuel, Burden of Illness coordinator and director of license accreditation for the Ministry of Health in Belize, explained to the media that during the study, the coordinators analyzed data over a five-year span to identify the patterns and determine the high and low seasons for AGI.

Emmanuel emphasized that the data suggests that lifestyle practices are responsible for the prevalence of AGI.

“A single food or group of food items cannot be isolated to determine the high and low AGI seasons because parasites and viruses were determined as the leading agents,” Emmanuel said.

“As you know viruses relate more to hygiene practices and parasites tend to lean more towards interaction with the environment. Therefore indications are that lifestyle practices need to change.”

The study was launched in September 2012, with the aim of estimating the proportion of the population suffering from AGI. It was also geared towards investigating the common biological agents transmitted through food and water which cause food borne illnesses in Belize.

Random sample questionnaires were distributed to households throughout the six districts. A total of 2,901 questionnaires were completed from the 3,110 households sampled, with a response rate of 93.6 percent Eighty-nine percent of the respondents were from low to low-middle monthly income groups ($0-$2,500), 10 percent from the medium-high income group, ($2,501-$6,000), and 1 percent from the high-medium to high income group (over $6,000). Prevalence of AGI was equal among males and females.

The highest monthly prevalence was in the 5-14 age groups. The results showed that April – May is the AGI high season while the low season occurs from September – October, which had a prevalence rate of 7.1 percent.

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Printed from corozal.bz (Stomach Flu in Corozal - Corozal Daily)