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The influence of address errors on detecting outbreaks of campylobacteriosis


Mandatory notification to public health of priority communicable diseases (CDs) is a cornerstone of disease prevention and control programs. Increasingly, the addresses of CD cases are used for spatial monitoring and cluster detection and public health may direct interventions based on the results of routine spatial surveillance. There has been little assessment of the quality of addresses in surveillance data and the impact of address errors on public health practice.

We launched a pilot study at the Montreal Public Health Department, wherein our objective was to determine the prevalence of address errors in the CD surveillance data. We identified address errors in 25% of all reported cases of communicable diseases from 1995 to 2008. We also demonstrated that address errors could bias routine public health analyses by inappropriately flagging regions as having a high or low disease incidence, with the potential of triggering misguided outbreak investigations or interventions. The final step in our analysis was to determine the impact of address errors on the spatial associations of campylobacter cases in a simulated point source outbreak.



To examine, via a simulation study, the potential impact of residential address errors on the identification of a point source outbreak of campylobacter.

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