Use of insurance claims data to determine prevalence and confirm a cluster of sarcoidosis cases in Vermont

Public Health Rep. May-Jun 2009;124(3):442-6. doi: 10.1177/003335490912400314.


Objectives: In 2006, the Vermont Department of Health was asked to respond to a potential cluster of sarcoidosis cases related to a Vermont office building. Sarcoidosis prevalence has not been formally described for the United States. A range of < 1-40/100,000 is commonly reported; however, we have not identified primary sources supporting this conclusion. Because of the wide prevalence range and lack of a local estimate, confirming existence of a cluster was difficult.

Methods: We ascertained the prevalence of sarcoidosis cases in Vermont by using insurance claims data to determine whether or not a cluster of sarcoidosis cases was related to the office building. We calculated county and state annual prevalence proportions for sarcoidosis for 2004 and 2005 and annual building prevalences for 1992-2006.

Results: The pooled sarcoidosis case prevalence for Vermont was 66.1/100,000. The pooled building annual prevalence (1,128/100,000) was statistically different from the county in which the building is located (odds ratio = 15.5, 95% confidence interval 3.0, 50.3).

Conclusions: We reported the first statewide sarcoidosis prevalence in the United States. This prevalence exceeded previous limited and unsubstantiated U.S. reports. Even with Vermont's elevated sarcoidosis prevalence, the presence of a cluster in this building was apparent.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cluster Analysis*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Reporting*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sarcoidosis / epidemiology*
  • Vermont / epidemiology