The incidence of laboratory-confirmed cases of enteric pathogens in Denmark 2018: a national observational study

Anna Tølbøll Svendsen*, Hans Linde Nielsen, Peter Bytzer, John Eugenio Coia, Jørgen Engberg, Hanne Marie Holt, Lars Lemming, Steen Lomborg, Ea Sofie Marmolin, Bente Scharvik Olesen, Leif Percival Andersen, Steen Ethelberg, Anne Line Engsbro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Only a subset of enteric pathogens is under surveillance in Denmark, and knowledge on the remaining pathogens detected in acute gastroenteritis is limited. Here, we present the one-year incidence of all enteric pathogens diagnosed in Denmark, a high-income country, in 2018 and an overview of diagnostic methods used for detection. Methods: All 10 departments of clinical microbiology completed a questionnaire on test methods and provided 2018-data of persons with positive stool samples with Salmonella species, Campylobacter jejuni/coli, Yersinia enterocolitica, Aeromonas species, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (Enteroinvasive (EIEC), Shiga toxin-producing (STEC), Enterotoxigenic (ETEC), Enteropathogenic (EPEC), and intimin-producing/attaching and effacing (AEEC)), Shigella species., Vibrio cholerae, norovirus, rotavirus, sapovirus, adenovirus, Giardia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium species, and Entamoeba histolytica. Results: Enteric bacterial infections were diagnosed with an incidence of 229.9 cases/100,000 inhabitants, virus had an incidence of 86/100,000 and enteropathogenic parasites of 12.5/100,000. Viruses constituted more than half of diagnosed enteropathogens for children below 2 years and elderly above 80 years. Diagnostic methods and algorithms differed across the country and in general PCR testing resulted in higher incidences compared to culture (bacteria), antigen-test (viruses), or microscopy (parasites) for most pathogens. Conclusions: In Denmark, the majority of detected infections are bacterial with viral agents primarily detected in the extremes of ages and with few intestinal protozoal infections. Incidence rates were affected by age, clinical setting and local test methods with PCR leading to increased detection rates. The latter needs to be taken into account when interpreting epidemiological data across the country.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfectious Diseases
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)340-350
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Aged
  • Bacteria
  • Child
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Diarrhea/microbiology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Feces/microbiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Viruses
  • Gastroenteritis
  • epidemiology
  • enteric pathogens
  • surveillance
  • incidence


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