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About Health Studies
The Environmental Epidemiology - Health Studies program conducts special health surveillance and investigations of non-communicable disease clusters, and epidemiological studies of non-communicable disease (Chapter 161, Health and Safety Code). This includes surveillance and investigations of populations exposed and potentially exposed to toxic substances and harmful physical agencts. Currently the program is investigating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in Texas.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects many Americans. MS is a disease of the central nervous system and may produce a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms may be mild, such as unusual fatigue, to severe and crippling, such as blindness and paralysis. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease affecting the nervous system. Through mechanisms that are still not well understood, the immune system attacks nerve fibers in an autoimmune response, causing scarring on nerve cells. The result is that the transmission of nerve signals is disrupted. This disruption of nerve signals leads to the symptoms of MS. Because there are many symptoms that are a result of MS, and not all symptoms are present in all MS patients, the diagnosis of MS can be difficult.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive and ultimately fatal neuromuscular disease that causes nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to degenerate. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons causes voluntary muscles to weaken and become immobile. Because of the progressive degeneration of the nerves, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. However, ALS leaves the senses unimpaired and the intellect is often unaffected. In the U.S. approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year. Below are links to the MS studies, past and present, which have been (or will be) conducted by the Environmental and Injury Epidemiology and Toxicology Branch.