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The Netherlands saw an unexplained increase in campylobacteriosis incidence between 2003 and 2011, following a period of continuous decrease. We conducted an ecological study and found a statistical association between campylobacteriosis incidence and the annual number of prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), controlling for the patient's age, fresh and frozen chicken purchases (with or without correction for campylobacter prevalence in fresh poultry meat). The effect of PPIs was larger in the young than in the elderly. However, the counterfactual population-attributable fraction for PPIs was largest for the elderly (ca 45% in 2011) and increased at population level from 8% in 2004 to 27% in 2011. Using the regression model and updated covariate values, we predicted a trend break for 2012, largely due to a decreased number of PPI prescriptions, that was subsequently confirmed by surveillance data. Although causality was not shown, the biological mechanism, age effect and trend-break prediction suggest a substantial impact of PPI use on campylobacteriosis incidence in the Netherlands. We chose the ecological study design to pilot whether it is worthwhile to further pursue the effect of PPI on campylobacteriosis and other gastrointestinal pathogens in prospective cohort studies. We now provide strong arguments to do so. .


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