News in Digest: More MS and blood infection cases – nobody knows why

CPH Post
October 27th, 2018

This article is more than 5 years old.

Doctors know who is most vulnerable, but can rarely identify the cause with certainty

The rate of multiple sclerosis on the Equator is virtually nil. Once again, nobody knows why (photo: Pixabay)

Nobody can explain why there are 16,000 people struggling with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Denmark – the third highest-rate per capita in the world behind just San Marino and Canada.

“The most concerning thing is that we’ve seen a doubling of the number of people with multiple sclerosis in Denmark over the past 20 years and we don’t understand why,” Rigshospitalet doctor Finn Sellebjerg told DR.

With a thousand faces
Sellebjerg suggested that doctors might become better at making a diagnosis, particularly of milder cases – which was not possible earlier.

MS is known as the illness with a thousand faces as it affects people in lots of different ways. Some feel extreme fatigue or have trouble concentrating, while others are confined to wheelchairs or have sensory disturbances in their arms or legs.

Something in the water?
Meanwhile, the public health institute has mapped the birthplaces of the sufferers and found that people born or raised in Thyholm, Esbjerg, Nyborg, Randers, Favrskov and Aarhus are 18 percent more likely to develop MS.

Once again, no explanation was offered, although a researcher who was part of the project suggested that genetics and the environment, such as drinking water, possibly played a role.

Older more vulnerable?
Just like MS can strike out of nowhere, so can a bacterial blood infection, and the number of cases has risen by 30 percent since 2009 – up to 10,795 in 2017, according to a Danmap report compiled by Statens Serum Institut and the DTU.

Again, researchers could not give an explanation, although a doctor attached to Statens Serum Institut conceded it might be because there are more older people generally.

Worryingly, the number of MRSA multi-resistant bacteria infections is also rising. In 2009 there were 722 registered cases of MRSA infections, but by 2017 the number had shot up to 3,579.

Complacency reigns
And don’t forget how dangerous the flu can be. Last winter, over 1,500 people died and 8,000 were hospitalised as a result of the virus, and doctors are urging vulnerable groups – the over-65s, pregnant women and sufferers from chronic illnesses – to get vaccinated as they accounted for 95 percent of the fatalities.

A number of surveys have revealed that those particularly at risk often don’t follow the vaccination recommendations because they “feel happy and healthy,” Dr Kamilla Grønborg Laut told TV2.

“But if you belong to one of the risk groups, there is a high probability that a case of the flu can become serious.”

Last year only 50 percent of the risk groups got vaccinated.


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