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Food Chem Toxicol. 1992 Mar;30(3):183-8.

Epidemiology of Balkan endemic nephropathy.

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Medical Centre, Slavonski Brod, Croatia.


The first outbreak of Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) was reported between 1955 and 1957, initially in Serbia and soon afterwards in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The disease appears to be of a focal nature. In Yugoslavia at least six foci are known, generally along major rivers of the Danubian river basin, in areas that have often been flooded in the past and even today suffer from high ground waters. The prevalence rate of the disease is reported to be between 2 and 10%. In the endemic area of Croatia, a systematic survey of 'in-the-field' cases of the disease since 1975 has shown a prevalence between 0.5 and 4.4%. When suspected cases are also included the prevalence rises to 20% or more. Specific mortality (based on official statistics) during the period 1957-1984 averaged 1.54/1000 per annum, but some studies have shown that mortality is actually more than twice as high as this figure. More women are affected than men; women also more frequently die of BEN than men. Lethality is extremely high. A striking feature of BEN is the familial occurrence of the disease. Incidence does not seem to be connected with ethnic group differences. Immigrants into the endemic area may also contract the disease. An increased incidence of malignant tumours of the urinary tract has been recorded in populations living in endemic areas. Epidemiological characteristics suggest that the disease is contracted in the domestic situation, or possibly from other family members. Factors to be considered are food, water or long close contact. It is also possible that the disease is contracted outside the house, in connection with farming activities, since the affected persons are almost exclusively farmers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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