Getting to Know the Silk Road Disease
As unusual as it sounds, there is such a disease known as the Silk Road Disease. Known to affect mainly the communities living in the areas surrounding the old silk trading routes in the Middle East and Central Asia, the disease, named Behcet disease, is a form of vaculitis that can lead to ulceration and other lesions. In other words, it is a chronic disturbance to the body’s immune system. The question is: In what way does it affect the body’s immune system, why the immune system reacts that way and what kind of treatment is available?
In Behcet disease, the immune system, which protects the body against infections through controlled inflammation, become overactive and produces uncontrollable outbreak of inflammation. This in turn affects the small blood vessels and as a result, symptoms will begin to appear on the patch of inflammation.
No one knows exactly why the immune system reacts that way. As it is common in Middle East and Central Asia countries, suggestions has pointed out that it can be due to the tropical areas. Study has also revealed that it can be related to the food allergies, particularly to dairy products. Nevertheless, this disease is not restricted to communities from these regions as it has affected communities in Western countries such as the America and the United Kingdom as well. Globally, this disease is also known to males more than females.
In present times, this disease is treated clinically through identifying the specific patterns of symptoms and repeated outbreaks. Alternative causes for these symptoms have to be ruled out before a diagnosis is made. The three levels of certainty for diagnosis include International Study Group diagnostic guidelines, practical clinic diagnosis, suspected or possible diagnosis. Treatments that are available include controlling the immune system, easing the symptoms and reducing inflammation. Therapies such as the corticosteroid therapy and anti-TNF therapy and effective alternative treatments such as Interferon alfa-2a and Thalidomide have shown promising results in treating the disease.
As this disease requires a diagnosis of exclusion, one should take precaution by having a medical check-up with their physicians.