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Leap Day is International Rare Diseases Day (Video)

Capitalizing on the rare nature of Leap Day, the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) announces that today is the fifth international Rare Diseases Day.

A rare disorder is one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. In the United States, there are approximately 6,800 such diseases. While each disease is rare, when taken as a whole, rare diseases affect nearly 30 million Americans.

To spread awareness about rare diseases, activities are slated around the world, converging around the theme “Rare But Strong Together.” The video below is part of the organization’s efforts to raise awareness. You can read more about the people featured in the video here. Of the six people featured, I had only heard of one of their diseases (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome).

NORD maintains an online database of approximately 1,200 rare diseases. I’d heard of some of them — cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy are rare diseases. And a few struck a bell as something I’d heard of on the television show House, where sarcoidosis always seems to be part of the differential diagnosis. But most of them? News to me. And yet millions of people are living with these diseases.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBVug-GVLg0[/youtube]

Do you know someone living with a rare disease? Share it in the comments and help raise awareness!

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