Gastrointestinal Illness in Alberta Children


Being ill with vomiting and/or diarrhea is extremely common in children. Nonetheless, there is much we do not know about how best to identify the bugs causing these symptoms and the effects they have on families. To understand more, we are doing a study that is looking at many new ways to find the causes of vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Right now, if your doctor wanted to try to identify the bugs causing your child to have vomiting and/or diarrhea, they would give you a container to take home, and ask you to collect a sample of your child’s stool in the container. Because this process can be very unpleasant for parents, we are testing the use of bum swabs.

If the child decides to be in the study, the following samples will be collected:

a) Two Rectal (bum) swabs: These swabs collect material from just inside the anus to find the bugs that are causing vomiting and/or diarrhea. These tests are similar to collecting a rectal temperature, but with swabs rather than a thermometer.

b) One Stool Sample: Since we will be comparing the new tests with the traditional ‘old’ tests, we would also like to obtain stool in the ‘usual’ way.

We will test the samples using new techniques other than those routinely used in Alberta. This will allow us to identify possible causes of the symptoms in children. The results, what they mean and if anything needs to be done, will be emailed to you.

We would also ask you a brief (10-15 minutes) questionnaire over the phone regarding your child's illness, and another short (5 minutes) questionnaire again in two weeks' time to follow-up on how they have been feeling.


Currently recruiting participants: Yes

Eligible gender: Male, Female, Transgender, Other

Accepts healthy participants: Yes

Inclusion criteria:

1. 0 - 17.99 years of age.
2. A duration of vomiting and/or diarrhea of less than 7 days in the current illness.
3. The presence of 3 or more episodes of vomiting or 3 or more episodes of diarrhea in a given 24-hour period during the current illness.

Exclusion criteria:

1. Prior enrollment in the APPETITE study within the last 14 days.
2. History of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other significant underlying psychiatric illness.
3. History of low white blood cells (neutrophils < 1,000).
4. Unavailable for email or telephone follow-up 14 days after enrollment.


Fill out the following form if you want to participate in this research

Method of contact

Additional information

Contact information

If you are interested in participating in the research study, please contact Karen Lowerison, the APPETITE Team lead, at 403-955-3197 or More information, as well as consent forms are available at

Principal investigator:

Stephen Freedman

Clinical trial: