Jews are Prone to Familial Mediterranean Fever

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Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) is a inherited disorder affecting Sephardic Jews, Arabs, Armenians and Turks. It is a rare disease which usually begins in childhood and occurs primarily among persons of Mediterranean ancestry. It is characterized by short, self-limited, febrile episodes that may occur alone or with inflammation of serosal surfaces. Some individuals may exhibit an erysipilas-like erythema, almost always on the lower extremities. These attacks are associated with considerable morbidity and may lead to unnecessary surgery, but this disease does not appear to be associated with an increased mortality, except in those individuals who develop amyloid nephropathy. For those patients death usually occurs below the age of 40 years although longer survival has been reported. This complication occurs frequently in Turks and Sephardic Jews, but only rarely in individuals of other ethnic origins.

Familial Mediterranean Fever is an autosomal recessive disease. It also affects Morrocan Jews, largely descended from Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition. The disease is characterised by paroxysmal bouts of fever with acute and painful serositis. Appearance of renal amyloidosis indicates severe prognosis. The disease appeared several thousands of years ago in an ancestor common to Sephardic Jews, Turks, Armenians and Arabs. The full clinical description, including renal complications and familial forms, was made by two French investigators and dates from the 1950s. That this description is relatively recent is due to the scarcity of medical treatment and the poor living conditions in the regions concerned, which also explains the occurrence of endemic diseases (in particular tuberculosis), the frequency of acute rheumatic fever, malaria and pyogenic infections. Familial Mediterranean Fever is one of the most frequent recessive disease in non-Ashkenazi Jews.

The above information was assembled from abstracts recorded in:
Ethnic Sephardic Jews in the Medical Literature
Edited by Shelomo Alfassa
ISBN 978-0-9763226-6-5 Hardcover / September 2006

Posted in honor of YK!


Anonymous said:

I do not believe that FMF is rare. Particularly in the USA, it is being misdiagnosed as everything under the sun!! It is no longer considered rare in Italy. As more research comes in, my thesis that is not rare in the US will I believe be proven.

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This page contains a single entry by Shelomo Alfassa published on December 27, 2007 8:17 AM.

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