This article suggests that North East Scotland has the highest level of MS in the world at 1 in 700 (I had read that the rate was 1:500 in Colorado and parts of New England). The definition of MS in the article is somewhat flawed, suggesting that it's in the spinal cord and works itself up!
North-east Scotland has highest MS rate in the world
The North-east of Scotland has the highest number people suffering from MS - in the world.
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disease to effect the central nervous system and is more prevalent among people living in this area than anywhere else on the planet.
It is believed that MS is a genetic disease and it affects 1 in 700 people living in the North-east of Scotland and there is no recognised cure.
It is caused when a person's spinal tissue becomes inflamed and the messages coming to and from the brain become disrupted and even cut off completely. The most common ages in which MS symptoms appear are between 25-30 for women and 30-35 for men with women twice as likely to suffer from the disease. But the unpredictable nature of the disease means that the age of diagnosis can spread in either direction with people both in their teens and in their 60s being identified as having MS.
Colin Webster, president of the Scottish Association of Multiple Sclerosis, which run 10 therapy centres across the country, said: "The spinal cord is like a telephone line connecting messages to and from the brain.
"When a person has Multiple Sclerosis the messages become distorted and in the worse cases the messages can be completely cut off. For example if the messages between a persons brain and their legs are cut off then the legs will stop working."
It is not just a persons legs that are affected - the debilitating illness can work its way up the body and effect other bodily functions such as arms and speech and it is still unknown what causes the disease.
Mr Webster said: "After 200 years the disease is still not very well understood. There have been suggestions that the body's central nervous system in effect turns against itself.
"It is almost certainly caused by a genetic predisposition and is more prevalent in some parts of the country than others.
"There are theories that MS is helped by warmer climates but that is by no means the case and there are people with MS in countries where the climate is hot."
The disease can present itself in different ways but is often characterised by spells of attack and remission. According to Mr Webster one of the major problems with tackling MS is the unpredictable nature of the disease.
He explained: "There is no ability or test to predict what will happen in individual cases.
Frankly there is no successful available anti-inflammatories and often there is a slow progression of the disease."
Meanwhile staff at B&Q in Peterhead recently raised £842.77 for Grampian Friends of ARMS. The Multiple Sclerosis therapy centre offers physiotherapy, massage and reflexology and teaching techniques as well as an oxygen therapy which can help to treat the symptoms of MS.
B&Q Task Force volunteers Derek Highley and Ian Barclay washed cars and performed most of the work for the day along with Derek's wife, Cathline. Graham Watson, also an employee of B&Q, organised the charity event as his sister Lynda Simmers suffers from the disease and makes use the ARMS facility twice a week.
Source : The Buchan Observer Copyright © 2006 Archant Regional. All rights reserved.