Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2021;47(5):377-386    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3963 | Published online: 18 May 2021, Issue date: 01 Jul 2021

Dysuria, heat stress, and muscle injury among Nicaraguan sugarcane workers at risk for Mesoamerican nephropathy

by Stallings TL, Riefkohl Lisci A, McCray NL, Weiner DE, Kaufman JS, Aschengrau A, Ma Y, LaValley MP, Ramírez-Rubio O, Jose Amador J, López-Pilarte D, Laws RL, Winter M, McSorley VE, Brooks DR, Applebaum KM

Objectives Nicaraguan sugarcane workers, particularly cane cutters, have an elevated prevalence of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin, also referred to as Mesoamerican nephropathy (MeN). The pathogenesis of MeN may include recurrent heat stress, crystalluria, and muscle injury with subsequent kidney injury. Yet, studies examining the frequency of such events in long-term, longitudinal studies are limited.

Methods Using employment and medical data for male workers at a Nicaraguan sugarcane company, we classified months of active work as either work as a cane cutter or other sugarcane job and determined occurrence of dysuria, heat events and muscle events. Work months and events occurred January 1997 to June 2010. Associations between cane cutting and each outcome were analyzed using logistic regression based on generalized estimating equations for repeated events, controlling for age.

Results Among 242 workers with 7257 active work months, 19.5% of person-months were as a cane cutter. There were 160, 21, and 16 episodes of dysuria, heat events, and muscle events, respectively. Compared with work months in other jobs, cane cutting was associated with an elevated odds of dysuria [odds ratio 2.40 (95% confidence interval 1.56–3.68)]. The number of heat and muscle events by cane cutter and other job were limited.

Conclusions Working as a cane cutter compared with other jobs in the sugarcane industry was associated with increased dysuria, supporting the hypothesis that cane cutters are at increased risk of events suspected of inducing or presaging clinically evident kidney injury.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2018;44(1):16-24
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