Study shows no environmental link to AAV

Thursday, 1 Sep 2016

Exposure to fine dust in the aftermath of an earthquake does not increase the incidence or clinical manifestations of ANCA associated vasculitis, a study from New Zealand concludes.

The findings are in direct contrast to reports from Japan following a catastrophic earthquake in Kobe in 1995 that was subsequently linked to an increased incidence of severe renal and respiratory manifestations of myeloperoxidase (MPO) – AAV.

The researchers concluded at the time that massive air pollution caused by the deconstruction and reconstruction of Kobe may have been causally linked to the changes in clinical features of the disease.

Writing in the Internal Medicine Journal rheumatologist Professor Lisa Stamp and colleagues said the aim of their study was to examine whether the aftermath of the devastating magnitude 6.4 earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011 had similarly changed the pattern of disease within the local population.

But when they assessed the incidence of disease three years before the earthquake (period 1) and three years after (period 2) they discovered no statistically significant differences between the two time periods in terms of incidence or clinical manifestations.

The incidence in period one was 1.87/100,000/annum (95% C.I. 1.23 – 2.72), and for period two was 1.73/100,000/annum (95% C.I. 1.12 – 2.55).

“Our study does not support the hypothesis that an aetiological environmental agent, that was exposed or increased following the Christchurch earthquake, changed the incidence or clinical manifestation of AAV within the time frame under study,” the researchers concluded.

However, they noted that the presence of  ‘non-methodological confounders’ could potentially have influenced their findings. For example, the population of Kobe was larger and different to that of Christchurch. Earthquake severity may also influence the intensity of exposure to potential aetiologic agents, they said.

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