Association of Parkinson's disease with infections and occupational exposure to possible vectors.

The ultimate causes of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) are not fully known, but environmental and occupational causes are suspected. Postencephalitic parkinsonism has been linked to influenza, and other viral infections have also been suspected to relate to PD. We estimated the relationship between PD and both infections and possible vectors of infection (i.e., animal and human) in a population-based, case-control study in British Columbia, Canada. We recruited 403 cases detected by their use of antiparkinsonian medications and 405 controls from the registrants of the provincial universal health insurance plan. Severe influenza was associated with PD (odds ratio [OR]: 2.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.16-3.48), although this effect was attenuated when reports were restricted to those occurring 10 or more years before diagnosis. Childhood illnesses were inversely associated with PD, particularly red measles (OR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.48-0.90). Several animal exposures were associated with PD, with statistically significant effects for cats (OR: 2.06; 95% CI: 1.09-3.92) and cattle (OR: 2.23; 95% CI: 1.22-4.09). Influenza infection may be associated with PD. The inverse relationships with childhood infections may suggest an increased risk with subclinical or asymptomatic childhood infections. Occupational exposure to animals may increase risk through transmission of infections or may indicate exposure to another agent of interest (e.g., bacterial endotoxin).

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