Abstract

We investigated sick leave from work, studies, preschool, and kindergarten occurring between 1 November 2010 and 31 January 2011 and associated with a waterborne outbreak of diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium hominis in late November 2010 in Östersund, Sweden with 45.2% of 60,000 residents being symptomatic. A questionnaire defining acute watery diarrhoea and/or ≥3 diarrhea episodes/day as cryptosporidiosis was sent to 1,508 residents in late January 2011 (response rate 69.2%). Among adults aged 18–60 years, 24.0% took sick leave for a mean of 4.6 (SD ± 4.0) days due to cryptosporidiosis, and an additional 10.6% were absent from work a mean of 4.0 (±2.2) days to care for symptomatic children. Among children (aged ≤17 years), 35.0% stayed home sick from kindergarten/preschool or school/university for a mean of 5.2 (±3.8) days resulting in 5.1 (±4.4) days of absence from work per sick child shared between parents/guardians. The estimated total number of sick leave days was 50,000 for adults and 20,700 for children, with an estimated direct cost of €7 million for employers. The potential impact on society of sick leave caused by waterborne diseases must be considered in decisions regarding the quality of drinking water.

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