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Summary of main points.
- Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, an opportunistic pathogenic organism, causes disease in a wide range of animals. Almost always, this disease manifests itself in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, causing symptoms that are extremely similar to Crohn's disease in humans. More info from Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in animals.
- Crohn's disease is so similar to mycobacterial diseases that it is often confused with one of them, intestinal tuberculosis. Each condition is regularly misdiagnosed as the other. There is some interchangability between treatments of the two diseases. More info from Similarities between Crohn's disease and mycobacterial disease.
- In the past, tests to look for Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in human Crohn's patients have been only partially successful, due to lack of adequate technology. Recent studies, using modern genetic techniques and extremely meticulous methods, have confirmed the existence of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in a substantial majority of Crohn's patients. More info from Biopsy Studies of Crohn's Disease Patients and Immunological studies of Crohn's Disease.
- Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been proven to cause disease in humans. In a research paper published in the British Medical Journal on February 7th 1998, researchers in England described the case of a seven year old boy who developed a M. paratuberculosis infection in the lymph nodes of his neck, and after an incubation period of five years, developed a clinical intestinal condition which was indistinguishable from Crohn's disease. The boy went into remission from the intestinal condition after treatment with antibiotics capable of destroying M. paratuberculosis.
- In a recent study, 52 Crohn's patients were treated with wide spectrum antibiotics, chosen for their activity against Mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Six were excluded because of intolerance of the medication. Of the remaining forty-six patients, forty-three went into clinical remission from the disease. Full text available:- Two year outcomes analysis of Crohn's disease treated with rifabutin and macrolide antibiotics.
- Recently, it has been suggested that Crohn's disease presents in two different forms, the aggressive perforating form, and the contained nonperforating form. This "dual-presentation" has not been considered in any research to date. Other mycobacterial diseases have a similar aggresssive/contained "dual-presentation". More info from The polar manifestations of mycobacterial diseases and of Crohn's disease.
- Mycobacterium paratuberculosis has been detected in 7% of milk bought in stores across England and Wales. The presence of the organism was seasonal, i.e. it was in up to 25% of samples in September, October and November, and in January, February and March. In summer, the organism was not found at all. Such analysis of milk has not been conducted in any other country. Full text available:- IS900 PCR To Detect Mycobacterium paratuberculosis in Retail Supplies of Whole Pasteurized Cows' Milk in England and Wales.
- Crohn's disease has been documented to vary seasonally, i.e. sufferers are more likely to relapse during the autumn and winter. The production of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis by cows, in milk and in faeces, is also seasonal, taking place mostly during autumn and late winter/early spring. More info from The epidemiology of Crohn's disease.
- People from countries almost without Crohn's disease(Morocco, West Indies, South Asia), who then move to a country with high prevalence of the disease (Northern Europe and North America), develop the disease as often as the people of their new home country, i.e. their population develops just as high prevalence rates of the disease. This is strong evidence for the involvement of an environmental agent in those new countries. More info from The epidemiology of Crohn's disease.
- At least half a million people suffer from Crohn's disease across the world. Up to 75% of them will have surgery for the disease at some stage of their lives. The financial cost of treating and supporting these people is approximately US$12 billion in 1998. More info from The financial cost of Crohn's disease.
- The incidence rate of Crohn's disease is increasing in most parts of the world. More info from The epidemiology of Crohn's disease.
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