Airborne particulate matter from primarily geologic, non-industrial sources at levels below National Ambient Air Quality Standards is associated with outpatient visits for asthma and quick-relief medication prescriptions among children less than 20 years old enrolled in Medicaid in Anchorage, Alaska.
In Anchorage, Alaska, particulates with aerodynamic diameter or = 34 micro g/m(3). A significant 18.1% increase (RR: 1.181, 95% CI: 1.010-1.381) in the rate of quick-relief medication prescriptions occurred during days with PM(10) of 34-60 micro g/m(3), and a 28.8% increase (RR: 1.288, 95% CI: 1.026-1.619) occurred during days with PM(10) > or = 61 micro g/m(3). Similar results for outpatient asthma visits and quick-relief medication occurred in weekly models. There were no significant associations with PM(2.5) in either daily or weekly models. These subtle but statistically significant associations suggest that non-industrial, geologic sources of PM(10) may have measurable health effects at levels below current national standards.
BACKGROUND: Few population-based studies have evaluated the association between birth weight or gestation and subsequent clinically significant asthma. METHODS: Birth records of 37 349 Alaska residents or =5 years of age, the adjusted OR for developing asthma decreased by 3.4% (95% CI -2.8 to 9.8) and 3.7% (95% CI -2.0 to 9.2) per additional week of gestation for those without and with lower respiratory tract infection, respectively. Among all children with asthma, the adjusted OR for hospitalisation due to asthma decreased by 6.9% (95% CI 2.1 to 11.5) for each additional week of gestational age. Small for gestational age status was not significantly associated with asthma outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Preterm birth but not small for gestational age status predicted subsequent asthma outcomes. Adverse effects of preterm birth on asthma outcomes persist beyond age 5 years.
BACKGROUND: During May 2004, the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) investigated an outbreak of norovirus gastroenteritis on board a cruise ship sailing in Alaska waters. The objectives were to identify a common food item source and explore behavioral risk factors for person-to-person transmission among passengers. METHODS: A case was defined as three or more episodes of loose stools within 24 hours or two or fewer episodes of loose stools accompanied by one or more episodes of vomiting. Vomitus and stool samples from affected passengers were tested for norovirus by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Environmental health officers performed an environmental investigation following VSP protocol. Questionnaires about food items consumed and behavioral risk factors were placed in cabin mailboxes (n = 2,018). A case-control study design using multivariable logistic regression tested associations between risk factors and disease. RESULTS: A total of 359 passengers (24.1% of respondents) met the case definition. Four of seven clinical specimens tested positive for norovirus. No significant deficiencies in environmental health practices were identified, and no meal servings were associated with disease. Having a cabin mate sick with diarrhea or vomiting [odds ratio (OR): 3.40; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.80-6.44] and using a specific women's toilet that was contaminated with vomit (OR: 5.13; 95% CI = 1.40-18.78) were associated with disease. Washing hands before meals was protective (OR: 0.25; 95% CI = 0.12-0.54) against disease. CONCLUSIONS: Widespread person-to-person norovirus outbreaks can occur on board cruise ships, even with appropriate environmental health practices. Programs to prevent and control norovirus outbreaks on board cruise ships should involve strategies that disrupt person-to-person spread and emphasize hand washing.