Headline News

Respiratory Tract Infection, Mononucleosis Linked to MS

July 24, 2000

The inclusion of antecedent infection as an etiologic factor in the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been supported by yet another study.

Lead researcher Dr. Ruth A. Marrie and her colleagues identified incident cases of MS in the computerized patient records comprising the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database.

In all, 225 cases of MS were found and matched for sex, age and physician practice to 900 controls. Their report is published in the current issue of the journal Neurology.

MS risk was associated with the frequency of respiratory tract infections at 5 weeks, 3 months and 12 months before the index date. Further, "[e]xposure to respiratory tract infection in the 3 months before the index date was associated with more than double the risk of multiple sclerosis," the investigators wrote.

A patient history of mononucleosis was associated with a six-fold increase in risk of MS when contracted after age 17.

"These results support an association between a history of infectious mononucleosis and subsequent MS," the investigators concluded. "Respiratory tract infections may precipitate disease onset."

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