Massachusetts General Hospital doctors to research colitis type diseases in Northport, WA
Northport is a picturesque town with 330 people. Located near the Canadian border, its residents are hardy folks that can withstand both bitter cold temperatures in winter and the heat of summer. You live here because you like open space, enjoy a rural life style and have the physical constitution to match.
Strange, then, that over fifty current and former residents of Northport are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In a town the size of Northport, the number should be around two. In the world of epidemiology (which studies the health and illness of a population in a specific geographic area) the high incidence of IBD is called a cluster.
Is it a random occurrence? Or is there something unique to the Northport environment that is triggering these high rates?
Answering these questions is what Dr. Josh Korzenik and Dr. Sharyle Folwer from Massachusetts General Hospital, in cooperation of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, intend to find out. They are conducting an epidemiological study of Northport residents, both current and past, who have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, crohn’s, or any other IBD disease.
For residents in Northport, this is very welcome news. Said Jamie Paparich, a resident that spent years trying to bring attention to this issue, “No one likes to talk about their illness because it’s difficult and painful with no cure. You just try your best to manage it. It’s hard to believe so many cases in such an isolated area are just a coincidence. We want answers.”
The first step is to help doctors collect health questionnaires (see box). The questionnaires, along with possible requests for medical records, will help confirm if there is a disease cluster. The surveys are also a first step to see if there are discernible patterns, e.g.—age, diet, use of the river, family history, etc.
If evidence warrants it, the doctors are committed to seeking funding to see if environmental factors, genetics or something else may be the underlying reason. Beyond helping people in Northport, the study holds the promise of shedding new light on ways to prevent, treat or even cure this illness.
Past & Present Northport Residents Urged to Participate!
All current or former residents of Northport are invited to participate in the survey, regardless of whether you have or think you may have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Researchers need to compare the characteristics and lifestyles of people with and without the disease. Participation is voluntary, and all responses confidential.
To complete a survey, either:
- E-mail NorthportIBD@gmail.com. You will be given a web site and log in information to complete the survey on- line.
- Contact Dr. Sharyle Fowler (contact information below) to receive a paper survey to complete and return via U.S. mail.
- More information is also available by contacting Dr. Sharyle Fowler at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Crohn’s and Colitis Center, 165 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA, 02114,(617) 724- 1619, NorthportIBD@gmail.com.
Article from The Lake Roosevelt Forum Winter 2011 Newsletter. To read entire Newsletter go to: http://lrf.org/Newsltrs/Winter2011.pdf