Rare Disease Report

Rare Disease Report: Five Facts About Rare Disease [Infographic]

JULY 07, 2017
Mathew Shanley
Since the inception of Rare Disease Report in 2012, the publication has stressed the phrase "When you hear hoof beats, don't assume it's a horse."

This, of course, is a twist on instructions given by former University of Maryland professor Dr Theodore Woodward to his medical interns. Woodward insisted on thinking horses and avoiding zebras in all diagnoses. Why? Because rare diseases are just that - rare.

With RDR's infographic, you'll see exactly why it's so important to keep an open mind, though. This zebra and the 5 facts that come along with it are constant reminders to look for stripes.

Rare Disease Report
  • In the United States, a disease or disorder is defined as rare when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.
  • 80% of rare diseases have identified genetic origins, while others are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.
  • 50% of rare diseases affect children.
  • The lack of scientific knowledge and quality information on the disease often results in a delay in diagnosis and can result in heavy burdens - both social and financial - on patients and their families.
  • Common symptoms can mask underlying rare diseases and lead to misdiagnosis and a delay of treatment.

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