Have we been underestimating the incidence of ‘rare’ diseases?

Published today in Journal of Medical Case Reports is a case series that has caught the eye of our Editor-in-Chief, Professor Michael Kidd. On “Report from Mongolia – How much do we know about the incidence of rare cases in less developed countries: a case series“, Professor Kidd says:

“Diseases which are currently considered to be rare in industrialized nations may occur at a higher frequency in less developed countries.

The reasons may not only be due to geographically different burdens of certain diseases, and limited diagnostic and therapeutic facilities but also may be due to limited opportunities for publication.

In this report of the cases of seven patients seen over a five month period in intensive care unit in a hospital in Mongolia, the authors make the first report in the medical literature of general exanthema and acute renal failure after ingestion of diesel fuel and the first report of Fournier gangrene complicating acute necrotizing pancreatitis.  Other interesting cases include a man with acute renal failure due to acetic acid intoxication and a man who presented with chest pain following ingestion of a metal needle which became embedded in his ventricular wall.

The authors ask whether the global incidence of certain conditions is underestimated in the current medical literature which is largely based on reports from highly developed countries. The authors invite readers to reflect on whether certain diseases assumed to be rare could occur more often in less developed countries.

The Journal of Medical Case Reports encourages submissions of interesting and important case reports from clinicians working in developing nations.”

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