CDC Sponsors Sickle Cell Awareness Month Symposium

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the seminal case report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (November 1910) by James B. Herrick titled "Peculiar Elongated and Sickle-Shaped Red Blood Corpuscles in a Case of Severe Anemia."

In recognition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sponsoring activities to increase knowledge and awareness of the disease, including a symposium on September 13, 2010, in Atlanta.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 persons in multiple racial and ethnic populations in the United States. In the United States, one in 500 persons in the black population is born with the disease. Other populations affected include Hispanics, persons of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent, and Asians. In addition, approximately 2 million persons in the United States have the sickle cell trait. Sickle cell disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. A person with one copy of the mutated gene for hemoglobin is commonly referred to as having the sickle cell trait. The trait typically is asymptomatic, and persons with the trait commonly are unaware of their carrier status. However, these persons might pass the gene on to their children.

No data system exists that can be used to determine the actual prevalence of sickle cell disease in the United States. CDC, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, is developing a pilot surveillance project that will help determine more about how many persons have the disease and how it affects them. The Registry and Surveillance System for Hemoglobinopathies (RuSH) is funding the project in six states: California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Additional information regarding sickle cell disease and the symposium is available at www.cdc.gov/sicklecell.

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