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Wang Y.,CAS Lanzhou Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute | Wang R.,CAS Lanzhou Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute | Ming J.,National Climate Center | Liu G.,CAS Lanzhou Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute | And 5 more authors.
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2016

Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) is a major public health problem in China. Minqin, a Northwest county of China, has a very high number of annual PTB clinic visits and it is also known for its severe dust storms. The epidemic usually begins in February and ends in July, while the dust storms mainly occur throughout spring and early summer, thereby suggesting that there might be a close link between the causative agent of PTB and dust storms. We investigated the general impact of dust storms on PTB over time by analyzing the variation in weekly clinic visits in Minqin during 2005-2012. We used the Mann-Whitney-Pettitt test and a regression model to determine the seasonal periodicity of PTB and dust storms in a time series, as well as assessing the relationships between meteorological variables and weekly PTB clinic visits. After comparing the number of weekly PTB cases in Gansu province with dust storm events, we detected a clear link between the population dynamics of PTB and climate events, i.e., the onset of epidemics and dust storms (defined by an atmospheric index) occurred in almost the same mean week. Thus, particulate matter might be the cause of PTB outbreaks on dust storm days. It is highly likely that the significant decline in annual clinic visits was closely associated with improvements in the local environment, which prevented desertification and decreased the frequency of dust storm events. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first population-based study to provide clear evidence that a PTB epidemic was affected by dust storms in China, which may give insights into the association between this environmental problem and the evolution of epidemic disease. © 2015 The Authors. Source

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