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Question:

From Washington, DC, USA:

A co-worker of my sister recently said his 4-year old daughter had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (diagnosed about 3 months ago). He told my sister that his daughter's doctor said she had caught it from a virus of some kind and that she must have been in the "wrong place at the wrong time". There is no one else in his family who had diabetes (either type 1 or 2). Apparently this is the doctor's first diabetes case: could he be passing misinformation on to his patients or can type 1 diabetes be caught as a virus? I just don't want this poor little girl to walk around thinking she "caught" diabetes and not learn how to manage her health correctly.

Answer:

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease with a long prodromal phase, frequently of many years. Genetic background and environmental factor/s play a complex still not well defined role towards immune mediated destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. Amongst a long list of environmental factors, diet and virus have been the most investigated candidates so far, even though we don't exactly know either which, when and, last but not least, how.

In theory, viruses could act either as a first trigger to the autoimmune mechanism or as a final hit at an ongoing destructive process of the beta cells initiated a variable time before.

MS

Original posting 12 Apr 1999
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:02
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