Respiratory illness rates high in rural Alaska

From The Associated Press, Saturday, October 23, 2010:

Researchers say rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives are more likely to develop respiratory illnesses than anyone else in Alaska.

The Tundra Drums reports that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Rosalyn Singleton says rural Alaskans contract respiratory illnesses in part because they live in crowded conditions through harsh winters that leave residents indoors for long stretches of time.

Singleton says many rural Alaska homes lack running water, making hand-washing difficult. She says wood-burning stoves and smoking indoors contributes to the level of respiratory illness, as do dusty clouds that sweep off roads.

Despite the difficult conditions, hospitalization rates for children suffering from respiratory illness on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are falling.