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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z HPA electronic Foodborne and non-foodborne gastrointestinal Outbreak Surveillance System (eFOSS)

HPA electronic Foodborne and non-foodborne gastrointestinal Outbreak Surveillance System (eFOSS)

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The Health Protection Agency has operated a system of surveillance for general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in England and Wales since 1992, which includes foodborne and non-foodborne gastrointestinal outbreaks.

These pages summarise foodborne and non foodborne outbreaks reported to the electronic Foodborne and Non-foodborne Gastrointestinal Outbreak Surveillance System (eFOSS) from 1992-2010. Electronic surveillance began in 2009 to improve communication and data capture (ease and timeliness of reporting).

An outbreak is an incident in which two or more people, thought to have a common exposure, experience a similar illness or proven infection (at least one of them having been ill).

A general outbreak is an outbreak affecting members of more than one household or residents of an institution.


Reported data on foodborne disease outbreaks are valuable in establishing a link between foodborne illness and specific foods or situations that caused it. Similarly, the same principle applies to illness linked to non-food sources.  The HPA becomes aware of possible foodborne and non-foodborne gastrointestinal outbreaks from various sources including the national laboratory reporting scheme, consultants in communicable disease control (CCDCs), Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), microbiologists and the HPA reference laboratories. A structured questionnaire is then sent to the appropriate CCDC with the request that the form be completed by the lead investigator on completion of the outbreak investigation. The questionnaire seeks a minimum set of data on the outbreak, including details of setting, mode of transmission, causative organism and details of epidemiological and laboratory investigations. Data from the questionnaires are stored, analysed and reported.

The following pages provide epidemiological data from the eFOSS surveillance system on foodborne outbreaks and non-foodborne outbreaks:

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