Epidemiology and aetiology of encephalitis in Canada, 1994-2008: a case for undiagnosed arboviral agents?

Research paper by M A MA Kulkarni, A Comtois AC Lecocq, H H Artsob, M A MA Drebot, N H NH Ogden

Indexed on: 15 Nov '12Published on: 15 Nov '12Published in: Epidemiology and infection


Encephalitis is a clinical syndrome often associated with infectious agents. This study describes the epidemiology and disease burden associated with encephalitis in Canada and explores possible associations with arboviral causes. Encephalitis-associated hospitalizations, 1994-2008, were analysed according to aetiological category (based on ICD-9/ICD-10 codes) and other factors using multivariate logistic regression for grouped (blocked) data and negative binomial regression. A discrete Poisson model tested spatio-temporal clustering of hospitalizations associated with unclassified and arboviral encephalitis aetiologies. Encephalitis accounted for an estimated 24028 hospitalizations in Canada (5·2/100 000 population) and unknown aetiologies represented 50% of these hospitalizations. In 2003, clusters of unclassified encephalitis were identified in the summer and early autumn months signifying potential underlying arboviral aetiologies. Spatio-temporal patterns in encephalitis hospitalizations may help us to better understand the disease burden associated with arboviruses and other zoonotic pathogens in Canada and to develop appropriate surveillance systems.