Abstract 30: Are Man-made Pollutants Originating From China, Central Asia One Of The Windborne Mystery Infections Of Kawasaki Disease Carried Across The Pacific?

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Abstract

Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute febrile illness predominately affecting children (75-80%) that is classified as an autoimmune vasculitis of small- to medium-sized arteries. KD is generally self-limited, although serious cardiac lesions develop in 25-30% of cases. Despite over four decades of extensive international investigation, no cause of KD has been confirmed. Significantly higher rates of concurrent viral infections were recently observed in patients during acute KD, while another study found significantly greater risk of early hospitalization for bacterial infections before KD onset. Several recent large investigations appear to confirm that patients are significantly more likely to develop asthma or common allergies such as acute rhinitis and atopic dermatitis both before and after KD. Seasonal shifts in large-scale wind currents originating from heavily polluted regions in China and Central Asia are significantly associated with the occurrence of KD cases in Japan, Hawaii, and San Diego. Recently, it appears these authors discovered that marked candida pollution from the soil of heavy agricultural and industrial areas in Northeastern China is significantly associated with the occurrence of KD in Japan. There is extensive precedent for trans-ocean wind transport of industrial pollutants, including across the Pacific. China now accounts for more than 50% of the world’s total anthropogenic emissions and is responsible for 20-29% of total air pollution in the United States, particularly as a result of its rapid industrialization and heavy reliance upon coal-fired power plants. Significantly higher consumption of seafood contaminated with methylmercury, PCBs, and dioxins may account for the disproportionate rates of KD in East Asian populations. In Japan, the appearance of KD during the 1950s and 1960s coincides with outbreaks of Minamata disease during this same period, which resulted from an unprecedented increase in mercury pollution and the contamination of seafood. Lastly, industrialization and subsequent pre- and postnatal exposure to various irritants are significantly associated with the development of asthma and common allergies during early childhood, which suggests a potential common link to KD that deserves scrutiny.

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