Benjamin Osei-Tutu and Francis Anto
Background: There are over 250 foodborne diseases and are of growing public health concern worldwide. The distribution of these diseases varies from one locality to the other. Foodborne diseases come about as a result of ingestion of food contaminated with microorganisms or chemicals. The most common clinical presentation of foodborne disease takes the form of gastrointestinal symptoms; although other systems of the body can also be affected and represents a considerable burden of disability as well as mortality. The current study was carried out with the aim of describing the trends and patterns of foodborne diseases reported at the Ridge Hospital in Accra, Ghana to serve as the first step towards understanding the profile of foodborne diseases in Accra. The study could then serve as a guide in the establishment of a sentinel site or surveillance system for foodborne diseases.
Methods: A retrospective review of routine data kept on patients who visited the Ridge Hospital from January 2009 to December 2013 was conducted to describe the trends and patterns of foodborne diseases reported at the facility. All available health records were reviewed and data on foodborne diseases extracted and analysed by age group, sex, season and geographical location within the catchment area of the hospital.
Results: The review showed significant variation in the annual reported cases of foodborne diseases [2009 = 11.5 % (118/1058); 2010 = 2.30 % (22/956); 2011 = 17.45 % (608/3485); 2012 = 7.98 % (498/6315) and 2013 = 2.56 % (345/13458)] p < 0.05. Significant seasonal variations were also observed [early dry season = 10.2 % (322/3142); late dry season = 24.4 % (909/3728); early wet season = 4.3 % (107/2494); late wet season = 6.3 % (256/4094). There were monthly variations also during the period (p < 0.001) except for the year 2010 (p = 0.428). The highest prevalence was reported during the late dry season (February–April). The most affected age group was those aged between 15 and 34 years who had significantly more infections in 2012 and 2013 than the other age groups (p < 0.001). Overall many more males than females reported of food borne diseases (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The commonly reported foodborne diseases at the Ridge Hospital were: typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera and viral hepatitis. These diseases were found to be very seasonal with peaks at the onset of the rainy season.
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