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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between water and Helicobacter pylori and the burden of related illnesses in the Township of Langley, British Columbia Bellack, Neil


The objectives of this dissertation are to (1) propose a conceptual framework describing the role of water in H. pylori transmission; (2) construct a database of water system and environmental characteristics using a geographic information system (GIS); (3) investigate the prevalence and incidence of H. pylori-related illnesses; and (4) examine the association between water system and environmental variables and H. pylori infection. The setting for this work was the Township of Langley, British Columbia. Based on findings from epidemiological and microbiological studies, a conceptual model of water’s role in H. pylori transmission was developed (Chapter 2). A population-based approach was employed in the construction of the GIS database to assign the risk factors outlined in the model to each Township resident (Chapter 3). Using administrative health services records for H. pylori-related illness, the average annual prevalence of gastric cancer, peptic ulcer disease and gastritis was 20, 450 and 1,777 cases per 100,000 population respectively, and average annual incidence was 13, 268 and 899 cases per 100,000 respectively. There was a significant decrease in the prevalence and incidence of peptic ulcer disease and the incidence of gastritis in the study population over the follow-up period, however, the costs to the health care system remained high (Chapter 4). In a nested case-control study, variables from the GIS database were linked to a database of serological results used to ascertain positive H. pylori infection. H. pylori infection was associated with mixed water source (adjusted OR = 0.63, versus groundwater only) and non-residential land use (adjusted OR=1.58, versus residential) among younger cases (Chapter 5). Odds ratios diminished in the older age groups, suggesting the presence of a cohort effect and that the exposures investigated were most relevant for younger individuals. The findings highlight possible transmission routes, relevant within the Canadian (and North American) context and evidence for public health interventions with regards to water supply and land use. Further, the methodology linked a variety of administrative data to cover all residents of the study area and assigned environmental variables over time, and can serve as a model for other environmental epidemiologic studies.

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