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Incubation period for campylobacteriosis and its importance in the estimation of incidence related to travel

Abstract

Differentiation between travel-related and domestic cases of infectious disease is important in managing risk. Incubation periods of cases from several outbreaks of campylobacteriosis in Canada, Europe, and the United States with defined exposure time of less than 24 hours were collated to provide information on the incubation period distribution. This distribution was consistent across the varied outbreaks considered, with 84% (702/832) of cases having an incubation period of four days or less and 1% having an incubation period of eight days or more. The incubation period distribution was incorporated into a model for the number of travel-related cases presenting with symptom onset at given dates after return to their country of residence. Using New Zealand notification data between 2006 and 2010 for cases who had undertaken foreign travel within 10 days prior to symptom onset, we found that 29.6% (67/227 cases; 95% confidence interval (CI): 28.3-30.8%) of these cases were likely to have been domestic cases. When cases with symptom onset prior to arrival were included, the probable domestic cases represented 11.8% (67/571; 95% CI: 11.2-12.3%). Consideration of incubation time distributions and consistent collection of travel start/end dates with symptom onset dates would assist attribution of cases to foreign travel.

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