Journal Article

Effects of Climate, Latitude, and Season on the Incidence of Bell’s Palsy in the US Armed Forces, October 1997 to September 1999

Karen E. Campbell and John F. Brundage

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 156, issue 1, pages 32-39
Published in print July 2002 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online July 2002 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwf009
Effects of Climate, Latitude, and Season on the Incidence of Bell’s Palsy in the US Armed Forces, October 1997 to September 1999

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Bell’s palsy is a relatively common disease characterized by the sudden onset of unilateral facial paralysis. Using a centralized surveillance system that contains demographic, military assignment, and medical encounter data of US military service members, the authors estimated rates, trends, and demographic correlates of risk of Bell’s palsy during a 2-year period. Poisson regression was used to estimate the independent effects of climate, season, and latitude. From October 1997 to September 1999, there were 1,181 incident cases of Bell’s palsy among US service members. The crude incidence rate was 42.77 per 100,000 person-years. Incidence rates increased with age and were higher among females, Blacks, Hispanics, married persons, and enlisted service members. Both climate (adjusted rate ratio for arid vs. nonarid climate = 1.34) and season (adjusted rate ratio for cold vs. warm months = 1.31) were independent predictors of risk of Bell’s palsy. Latitude was not a statistically significant predictor when demographic, climate, and season effects were taken into account. The results are consistent with hypotheses regarding viral etiologies (e.g., reactivation of herpes simplex) of Bell’s palsy.

Keywords: Bell palsy; climate; facial paralysis; military personnel; seasons; Abbreviation: HSV–1, herpes simplex virus type 1.

Journal Article.  4775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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