Modelling environmental factors correlated with podoconiosis

Molla, Yordanos B, Wardrop, Nicola A, Le Blond, Jennifer S, Baxter, Peter, Newport, Melanie J, Atkinson, Peter M and Davey, Gail (2014) Modelling environmental factors correlated with podoconiosis. International Journal of Health Geographics, 13 (24). ISSN 1476-072X

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Introduction: The precise trigger of podoconiosis ─ endemic non-filarial elephantiasis of the lower legs ─ is unknown. Epidemiological and ecological studies have linked the disease with barefoot exposure to red clay soils of volcanic origin. Histopathology investigations have demonstrated silicon, aluminium, magnesium and iron in the lower limb lymph node macrophages of both patients and non-patients living barefoot on these clays. We studied the spatial variation (variations across an area) in podoconiosis prevalence and the associated environmental factors with the goal of better understanding the pathogenesis of podoconiosis.

Methods: Fieldwork was conducted from June 2011 to February 2013 in 12 kebeles (administrative units) in northern Ethiopia. Geo-located prevalence data and soil samples were collected and analysed along with secondary geological, topographic, meteorological and elevation data. Soil data were analysed for chemical composition, mineralogy and particle size; and interpolated to provide spatially continuous information. Exploratory, spatial, univariate and multivariate regression analyses of podoconiosis prevalence were conducted in relation to primary (soil) and secondary (elevation, precipitation, and geology) covariates.

Results: Podoconiosis distribution showed spatial correlation with variation in elevation and precipitation. Exploratory analysis identified that phyllosilicate minerals, particularly of the clay (smectite and kaolinite) and mica groups, quartz (crystalline silica), iron oxide, and zirconium were associated with podoconiosis prevalence. The final multivariate model showed that smectite (RR = 2.76, 95 % CI: 1.35, 5.73; p = 0.007), quartz (RR = 1.16, 95 % CI: 1.06, 1.26; p = 0.001) and mica (RR = 1.09, 95 % CI: 1.05, 1.13; p < 0.001) had positive associations with podoconiosis prevalence.

Conclusions: Smectite, mica and quartz content of the soil was associated with podoconiosis prevalence. Together with previous work indicating that these minerals may influence water absorption, potentiate infection and be toxic to human cells, the present findings suggest that these particles may play a role in the pathogenesis of podoconiosis and acute adenolymphangitis, a common cause of morbidity in podoconiosis patients.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Global Health and Infection
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology > QE0001 General Including geographical divisions
R Medicine > RB Pathology > RB151 Theories of disease. Etiology. Pathogenesis
Depositing User: Gail Davey
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2014 08:05
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2017 16:29

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