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Korean Journal of Preventive Medicine 1993;26(2): 192-201.
Epidemiologic investigation to identify the cause of an infant methemoglobinemia.
young Yeul Kim, Bo Youl Choi, Hung Bae Park, Min Young Kim, In Hak Yeo
1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, HanYang University, Korea.
2Seoul Metropolitan Government Institute of Health and Environment, Korea.
Epidemiologic investigation was conducted on January, 1993 in Seoul to identify the cause of an infant methemoglobinemia. Field investigation of the area of outbreak, survey of household and family members, analysis of ground water, and blood tests of involved family members were performed. Following results were obtained. On analyzing the quality of the ground water on patients's household high levels of nitrate was found indicating contamination of water as the cause of a methemoglobinemia outbreak. On analyzing the quality of the ground waters on seven other places within the neighborhood five were contaminated by nitrate in concentration that exceeded the permissible limit implying presence nearby source of contamination. Sources of contamination were thought to be originating from human waste in conventional bathroom facilities, chicken manure used in nearby orchards and plant fields or fertilizers. But the results of water analysis with presence of bacteria or E.coli, concentration of potassium, phosphate and the past history of diarrhea among family members, chicken manure suggested the most possible source of contamination. To evaluate the health status of members in the neighborhood past history was reviewed revealing no prior existence of patient with cyanosis and 65 people in the neighborhood had normal levels of methemoglobin concentration in their blood. Conclusively, the ground water on patient's household was contaminated with nitrate and despite provision of adequate water supply, family members of the patient along with distrust in the water supply system had used ground water as their source of drinking water resulting of methemoglobinemia. Many suburban area of Seoul and country side thought to be having similar problems concerning contaminated ground water supply and dormant outbreak of patients as a result of the drinking of the contaminated water. Epidemiologic investigation and water analysis of ground waters are advised.
Key words: methemoglobinemia; nitrate; epidemiologic investigation
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