Open Access Research article

Estimating the burden of acute gastrointestinal illness in the community in Gansu Province, northwest China, 2012–2013

Xiang-Lai Sang1, Xiao-Cheng Liang1, Yan Chen2*, Jian-Dong Li3, Jing-Guang Li2, Li Bai2 and Jian-Yun Sun1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Food Safety, Gansu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, No. 230 Dong Gang West Road, Chengguan District, Lanzhou 730030 Gansu Province, China

2 Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk Assessment of Ministry of Health, China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, No. 7 Panjiayuan Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100021, China

3 Department of Cerebral Surgery, Armed Police Hospital of Gansu Province, No. 253 Gong Jia Wan Road, Qilihe District, Lanzhou 730050 Gansu Province, China

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:787  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-787

Published: 3 August 2014



Acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) imposes considerable social and economic burden on low and middle-income countries. This study aimed to estimate the occurrence, distribution, and burden of self-reported AGI in Gansu Province of northwest China, where economic growth rates have lagged far behind those of other regions in China and systematic studies to investigate the burden of AGI are still lacking.


Twelve-month, retrospective face-to-face surveys were conducted in three sentinel sites between June 2012 and May 2013. Respondents were asked if they had experienced diarrhoea or vomiting in the 28 days prior to the interview.


In total, 2094 interviews were completed. The adjusted monthly prevalence was 8.5% with an incidence rate of 1.16 episodes of AGI per person-year. Healthcare was sought by 73.8% of those reporting illness. Of the cases who visited a doctor, 50.5% submitted a stool sample. The use of antibiotics was reported by 65.6% of the cases and 53.3% took antidiarrhoeals. In the multivariable model, age, household income and sentinel site were significant risk factors of being a case of AGI.


The burden of AGI was considerable in Gansu Province of northwest China. Ongoing research to identify the main causes of AGI is needed for more accurate estimate of the burden of AGI in this region.