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Population Profile: Multiple Sclerosis

Ellen Sweeney

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive chronic disease of the autoimmune system which affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. There are a number of different types of MS with varying symptoms and degrees of severity, including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing remitting MS, primary progressive MS, secondary progressive MS, and progressive-relapsing MS. Symptoms of MS vary between individuals and can include extreme fatigue, as well as difficulties with vision, hearing, balance, and mobility.

Prevalence Rates

Worldwide, more than 2.3 million people have been diagnosed and are currently living with MS. The global prevalence rate indicates that there are 33 people living with MS per 100,000 people. The highest rates of MS are found in North America (140 per 100,000 people) and Europe (108 per 100,000 people).5,6 Canada has the highest rates in the world with approximately 100,000 Canadians currently living with the disease.

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