Intended for healthcare professionals


Huntington's centre faces closure

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 12 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:404
  1. Claire Wallerstein
  1. Caracas

    The world's only centre for people with Huntington's disease faces closure through lack of funds less than a year after it was set up. The disease affects only 1 in 10000 people worldwide.

    But in the tiny, poor, fishing villages around Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, up to 40% of the population is at risk. At least 1000 people in the area are showing symptoms of the disease. Nearly 3000 more are presymptomatic. Symptoms usually start with slight clumsiness, developing into incontinence, depression, total inability to move or talk, and dementia.

    Death is usually caused by heart failure or pneumonia. All those affected are descendants of a 19th century couple who had 20 children. There are now 16000 descendants. Those affected are often shunned by …

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