BACKGROUND. Acute fluoride poisoning produces a clinical syndrome characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and paresthesias. In May 1992, excess fluoride in one of two public water systems serving a village in Alaska caused an outbreak of acute fluoride poisoning. METHODS. We surveyed residents, measured their urinary fluoride concentrations, and analyzed their serum-chemistry profiles. A case of fluoride poisoning was defined as an illness consisting of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or numbness or tingling of the face or extremities that began between May 21 and 23. RESULTS. Among 47 residents studied who drank water obtained on May 21, 22, or 23 from the implicated well, 43 (91 percent) had an illness that met the case definition, as compared with only 6 of 21 residents (29 percent) who drank water obtained from the implicated well at other times and 2 of 94 residents (2 percent) served by the other water system. We estimated that 296 people were poisoned; 1 person died. Four to five days after the outbreak, 10 of the 25 case patients who were tested, but none of the 15 control subjects, had elevated urinary fluoride concentrations. The case patients had elevated serum fluoride concentrations and other abnormalities consistent with fluoride poisoning, such as elevated serum lactate dehydrogenase and aspartate aminotransferase concentrations. The fluoride concentration of a water sample from the implicated well was 150 mg per liter, and that of a sample from the other system was 1.1 mg per liter. Failure to monitor and respond appropriately to elevated fluoride concentrations, an unreliable control system, and a mechanism that allowed fluoride concentrate to enter the well led to this outbreak. CONCLUSIONS. Inspection of public water systems and monitoring of fluoride concentrations are needed to prevent outbreaks of fluoride poisoning.
Using injuries associated with three-wheeled all-terrain vehicles in Alaska as an example, the existing injury data bases were assessed for usefulness, cost, simplicity, acceptability, flexibility, sensitivity, specificity, representativeness, and timeliness. In this study strengths and weaknesses of existing data for all-terrain vehicles were identified and ways to improve data collection and linkages across data systems are suggested. Based on this evaluation, linked death certificates and medical examiner data provide an excellent mechanism for monitoring vehicle-related fatalities. Information sources for nonfatal and nonvehicle-related injuries require further development. Police records provide supplemental information, but they are limited to the events reported to police. Although other sources were explored, they added no advantage to the primary sources. Data processing, analysis, and dissemination--traditional responsibilities for public health and other governmental agencies--can transform these data sources into meaningful mechanisms to define injury trends and monitor injury-specific intervention strategies.
Arterial, liver, and serum specimens were collected from 130 Alaska Natives who underwent forensic necropsy (mean age, 36.9 years; age range, 9-85 years; 38 females and 92 males). Based upon the observed frequencies of the six common apo E genotypes, the estimates of the relative frequencies of the corresponding alleles in the population are 0.020 +/- 0.009 for E2, 0.787 +/- 0.026 for E3 and 0.193 +/- 0.025 for E4. Analysis showed significant differences, by apo E genotype, in the extent of total surface lesion involvement in both the right and left coronary arteries. In all but the abdominal aorta, the pattern of lesion involvement by genotype is consistent with a decrease in lesions for genotypes with the E2 allele and an increase in lesions for the genotypes with the E4 allele, relative to the E3 homozygotes. After adjustment for low + very low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL + VLDL-C), the differences fell below statistically significant levels. Analysis by genotype of total serum cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and LDL + VLDL-C showed no statistically significant differences in analyte levels among genotypes. However, evidence is seen of a pattern in which total cholesterol and VLDL + LDL-C is less in genotypes with the E2 allele and greater in those with the E4 allele. We conclude that there does appear to be an effect by apo E genotype upon extent of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries of Alaska Natives and this effect is likely due to the previously reported effect of apo E polymorphisms on serum cholesterol, particularly LDL + VLDL-C.
Low mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD) among Eskimos has been attributed to less atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries because of a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Other investigators attribute this low mortality to the fact that Eskimos have a high mortality from other causes before middle age, when CHD is common. However, most studies have been epidemiological, either by death-certificate review or risk-factor evaluation. We evaluated the extent of atherosclerotic lesions in the coronary arteries and aortas from Alaska Natives. Standardised comparisons between samples from 103 Native and 101 non-native residents show that the extent of raised lesions increases with age in both groups, but the prevalence of raised lesions in native specimens was consistently lower than in those from non-natives. This difference was statistically significant. The data suggest that the differences in CHD mortality between Alaska Natives and non-natives are, at least in part, the result of less atherosclerosis in natives.
Alaska Natives have one of the highest rates of food-borne botulism worldwide. All outbreaks have been associated with the consumption of native foods, but in recent years outbreaks have occurred in previously unaffected areas and have involved new food items. Five botulism outbreaks occurred between 1975 and 1985 in an area of southwestern Alaska without previous confirmed outbreaks and among one ethnic group, the Yupik Eskimo. Of the 5 outbreaks, 3 were associated with fermented beaver tail, a nontraditional native food recently introduced into the region. Preparation techniques vary widely within villages and among ethnic groups. Traditional fermentation techniques have changed over the past 50 years; current preparation methods used by some families and ethnic groups may be more favorable for Clostridium botulinum growth. Prevention efforts should be targeted at high-risk subgroups of Alaska Natives who appear to have modified traditional practices and increased their risk of food-borne botulism.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 1850.
OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that Alaska Natives have fewer atherosclerotic lesions in the coronary arteries and aorta than nonnative Alaska residents. DESIGN: Systematic standardized collection and evaluation of coronary arteries and aortas collected at autopsy. SETTING: Forensic autopsy service in Alaska. SUBJECTS: One hundred thirty Alaska Natives and 115 Alaska nonnatives who underwent forensic autopsy between February 1989 and December 1993. INTERVENTION: None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence and extent of atherosclerotic lesions in the aortas and coronary arteries in both populations studied. RESULTS: Alaska Natives had significantly lower prevalence and extent of raised atherosclerotic lesions in the abdominal aorta and coronary arteries than nonnative Alaska residents. CONCLUSIONS: Differences in coronary heart disease mortality between Alaska Natives and nonnatives are, at least in part, the result of fewer atherosclerotic lesions in Alaska Natives.
BACKGROUND: Chlamydia pneumoniae has been identified in coronary atheroma, but concomitant serum antibody titers have been inconsistently positive and unavailable before the detection of early or advanced atherosclerotic lesions. METHODS AND RESULTS: This retrospective investigation was performed on premortem serum specimens and autopsy tissue from 60 indigenous Alaska Natives at low risk for coronary heart disease, selected by the potential availability of their stored specimens. Serum specimens were drawn a mean of 8.8 years (range, 0.7 to 26.2 years) before death, which occurred at a mean age of 34.1 years (range, 15 to 57 years), primarily from noncardiovascular causes (97%). Coronary artery tissues were independently examined histologically and, for C pneumoniae organism and DNA, by immunocytochemistry (ICC) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with species-specific monoclonal antibody and primers. Microimmunofluorescence detected species-specific IgG, IgA, and IgM antibody in stored serum. C pneumoniae, frequently within macrophage foam cells, was identified in coronary fibrolipid atheroma (raised lesions, Stary types II through V) in 15 subjects (25%) and early flat lesions in 7 (11%) either by PCR (14, 23%) or ICC (20, 33%). The OR for C pneumoniae in raised atheroma after a level of IgG antibody > or =1:256 >8 years earlier was 6.1 (95% CI, 1.1 to 36.6) and for all coronary tissues after adjustment for multiple potential confounding variables, including tobacco exposure, was 9.4 (95% CI, 2.6 to 33.8). CONCLUSIONS: Serological evidence for C pneumoniae infection frequently precedes both the earliest and more advanced lesions of coronary atherosclerosis that harbor this intracellular pathogen, suggesting a chronic infection and developmental role in coronary heart disease.
Investigation of measles outbreaks during the fall of 1976 led to the discovery that Alkaska's school immunization law was not being enforced. In an effort to control a large outbreak of measles in Fairbanks, children were required to show proof of measles vaccination or be excluded from school. Of the Fairbanks schoolchildren, 25% were vaccinated against measles; 1,251 (11%) of 11,727 unvaccinated schoolchildren were excluded in January, and no further cases of measles occurred. Subsequently, the school law was enforced statewide, and on March 1, 1977, all children not immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, and rubella were excluded from school (7,418 [8.3%] of 89,108). One month later, fewer than 51 children still did not meet immunization requirements. More than 35,000 children were vaccinated in the immunization campaign; no adverse side effects to any vaccine were reported.