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Article
August 22, 1977

Multiple Sclerosis and Exposure to House Pets

JAMA. 1977;238(8):854. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280090018007
Abstract

To the Editor. —  In an elegant epidemiologic study, Cook and Dowling1 recently showed a strong correlation between familial multiple sclerosis and exposure to small house pets. The present study may confirm this data and extend it to sporadic cases.Fifty multiple sclerosis patients were questioned. Forty-six (92%) had close contact with a house pet, usually within five (or ten) years prior to the onset of their illness. Only 24 of 50 (48%) in the control group (consisting of patients with migraine, epilepsy, or low back pain and of about the same age and sex) had similar contact. This difference is highly significant (P<.001). The incidence of contact with sick dogs in the multiple sclerosis series was impressive. Several patients reported that a diagnosis of distemper was actually made for their dog within several years of the onset of their illness. Because of the vagueness of the canine

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