Is over-reporting a problem in mandatory communicable disease reporting? The taiwanese experience on Enterovirus 71
Introduction: In Taiwan, severe enteroviral infections must be reported to the government within 24 hours to ensure that severe enterovirus 71 (EV71) infections can be detected early. The objective of this research was to ascertain whether over-reporting is a problem in mandatory disease-reporting systems.
Methodology: A multiyear cross-sectional study methodology was applied based on secondary data analyses. Data from the national notifiable communicable disease surveillance system of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control were analyzed to assess the trends and factors influencing reporting accuracy.
Results: From July 1999 to December 2008, 2,611 cases of severe enteroviral infection were reported in Taiwan. Among these cases, 1,516 were confirmed to be EV71 cases, and the remaining 1,095 were confirmed to be non-EV71 infections. The overall accuracy rate was 58%. The accuracy rate was 60%–70% higher during epidemics (2000–2002, 2005, and 2008) and high seasons than it was in other seasons. The accuracy rate was highest among medical centers and lowest among district hospitals.
Conclusions: The results indicated that reports are more accurate during high seasons and peak years than during other periods. This might be attributable to the adequate level of specific educational programs for professionals when more cases occur, which could facilitate identification. Based on experiences in Taiwan, optimal training can ensure that surveillance systems are not inundated by false-positive reports.
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