According to raredisease.org, there are currently around 6,000 to 8,000 rare diseases with medical literature describing approximately five new ones every week. Defined as diseases affecting no more than 5 people in every 10,000 members of the general population (European Union definition), rare diseases are likely to affect seven per cent of the population at some point or another.
The most rare diseases
Including rare childhood cancers and well-known diseases like Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis, rare diseases are often life-threatening and chronic. Approximately 75 per cent of rare conditions affect children, with around 30 per cent of patients suffering with rare diseases dying before they reach the age of five.
Causes of the most rare diseases
Around 80 per cent of rare diseases have genetic components. Overall, rare conditions can be single gene, chromosomal, multi-factorial or non-genetic. Some of the most rare diseases can, however, be contracted as a result of accidents at work or environmental effects. Rare conditions resulting from work accidents or prolonged exposure to certain substances, UV-A radiation, and so on, include, for instance, asbestosis, melanoma and mercury poisoning.
Causes of work-related conditions
Asbestosis, for example, can be caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres or by workplace accidents resulting in exposure to massive quantities of asbestos all at once. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. This lethal cancer can be caused by excessive exposure to sunlight (UV-A radiation). Pilots in particular are at risk of developing this condition as a result of high level exposure to UV-A rays while flying.
Caused by mercury in organic, inorganic, vapour or elemental form, mercury poisoning can be contracted by skin contact, ingestion or inhalation. Industrial accidents involving the release of methylmercury or mercury into the environment may not only affect workers present at the time of the work accident, but, as the substance is released into the environment and may contaminate water supplies, fish, animals and plant life, can also cause poisoning in people living nearby.
Contracting the most rare diseases
If you contracted a work-related condition, regardless of whether it is one of the most rare diseases or a more common industrial illness like repetitive strain injuries, for instance, you could be eligible to make a work injury claim. Have a no-obligation confidential chat with one of our friendly Accident Advice Helpline advisors on free phone 0800 689 0500 or from your mobile: 0333 500 0993 to confirm your claim eligibility and get helpful advice on how to claim.
Date Published: December 9, 2015
Author: David Brown