Lou Gehrig’s disease is rare, 1st US count finds

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FILE - In this July 4, 1939, file photo, New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig wipes away a tear while speaking during a tribute at Yankee Stadium in New York. The league will conduct special on-field ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech and honor his legacy on July 4, 2014. Gehrig passed away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.  (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

FILE – In this July 4, 1939, file photo, New York Yankees’ Lou Gehrig wipes away a tear while speaking during a tribute at Yankee Stadium in New York. The league will conduct special on-field ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech and honor his legacy on July 4, 2014. Gehrig passed away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37. (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The government has issued its first national estimate for Lou Gehrig’s disease, confirming the devastating disease is rare.

A national search turned up about 12,000 cases.

The numbers reported Thursday translate to 4 cases per 100,000 Americans — similar to estimates from Europe and some small U.S. studies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report notes it’s most common in older white males,

The disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It attacks nerve cells and often starts with muscle twitching and weakness. Roughly three-quarters of people with the disease die within five years. It’s most famous victim was Gehrig, the baseball star who died from it in 1941.

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Online: CDC report

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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