CDC to outline scope of Fallon leukemia probe
FALLON, Nev. (AP) – The scope of human and environmental testing in the search for clues into Fallon’s childhood leukemia cluster will be announced Tuesday.
Thomas Sinks, associate director for science at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, said the CDC should begin field work in mid-August.
The tests will involve blood screens of affected families and volunteer control families, as well as soil, air and dust testing.
Researchers will be looking ”for evidence to support or refute what could have contributed to this cluster,” Sinks said.
Fourteen children with links to Fallon have been diagnosed with leukemia since 1997. The cluster includes 13 cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, and one case of acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML.
One boy, Adam Jernee, 10, died of ALL in June.
State and federal experts admit the chances of finding the cause of the leukemia cluster are slim. Out of more than 700 state and federal cancer cluster investigations in the last three decades, no single source for a disease epidemic ever has been identified.
But Fallon’s cluster is unique because it involves so many children who were diagnosed in so short a time. In addition, ALL clusters are rare and this one was identified very quickly, state officials said.
While a solution to the Fallon cluster might not be evident, experts said the investigation could offer insight into why children get leukemia.
Health officials will discuss the scope of the testing procedures during a 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at Fallon Community Center.
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