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Respiratory Viral Infections as a Risk Factor in RA Development

Ambient respiratory viral infections were associated with an increased number of incident rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially in women and older patients, according to a population-based study in Korea. Data of weekly incident RA (2012-2013) were obtained from the Korean Health Insurance claims database. Researchers estimated the percentage change in incident RA associated with ambient mean respiratory viral infections after adjusting for time trend, air pollution, and meteorological data. They found:

  • A total of 24,117 cases of incident RA (mean age 54.7 years, 77.5% women) were analyzed.
  • Ambient respiratory viral infections in the population were associated with a higher number of incident RA over time and peaked 6 or 7 weeks after exposure.
  • The impact of these respiratory viral infections remained significant in women and in older patients.


Joo YB, et al. Respiratory viral infections and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. [Published online ahead of print August 20, 2019]. Arthritis Research & Therapy. doi: 10.1186/s13075-019-1977-9.