Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



This research evaluates the use of Over-the-Counter anti-diarrheal medications as a potential syndromic indicator and surveillance mechanism for waterborne disease in New Mexico. The purpose was to determine the usefulness of such data for either supplemental or stand alone use in a system for waterborne disease surveillance. The use of syndromic indicators for waterborne disease was elevated in 1993 after an outbreak of cryptosporidium was detected in Milwaukee Wisconsin by an alert pharmacist who noticed increased sales of over-the-counter medications over a period of time. In 2001, terrorist threats for anthrax exposure to U.S. populations further prompted funding and research for the use of syndromic indicators as early detection mechanisms.

Waterborne disease, as related to six reportable pathogens of concern, is suspected to be underreported nationally and in the State of New Mexico, and adults are more likely to self medicate rather than seek medical attention. Though not typically fatal to the general population, some disease strains such as cryptosporidiosis and shigellosis have proven deadly to vulnerable populations.

This study utilizes special mapping and evaluates seasonality, temporality and measures of association in order to determine the potential value of OTC anti-diarrheal sales data as part of an overall surveillance program for waterborne disease in New Mexico.

Document Type




Degree Name

Health Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Elias Duryea

Second Committee Member

Magdalena Avila

Third Committee Member

William M. Kane

Fourth Committee Member

James E. Cheek