2009.07.02 – Polycythemia vera public meeting scheduled July 9

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July 2, 2009

Polycythemia vera public meeting scheduled July 9
Testing for marker of rare blood disease to be offered

ATLANTA – The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will hold a public meeting in the Tamaqua High School auditorium, 500 Penn St., on Thursday, July 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. to inform area residents of recent efforts regarding polycythemia vera (PV).
At the meeting ATSDR officials will present an overview of the PV research and other activities that will be funded by a special appropriation. In addition, the principal investigators of three already-identified projects will be on hand for more detailed discussions of their work.

The projects include: the Drexel epidemiological study, the McAdoo Superfund Site Water Outflow Study, and the ATSDR JAK2 screening project.

The JAK2 genetic marker was discovered in 2004 and found to occur in more than 95 percent of PV patients. Many experts believe people with PV and related blood disorders may test positive for the JAK2 marker for a number of years before ever exhibiting symptoms of PV. It is not known at this time if the JAK2 marker always leads to PV or another blood disease.

Since the rates of PV are higher in this area of Pennsylvania than other parts of the state, ATSDR will offer free blood tests to the community for the purpose of screening for the JAK2 gene marker. By volunteering for this testing, residents can learn if they carry this marker, even though they are currently without symptoms of PV. Early diagnosis and treatment of PV can prevent or delay complications. Individuals aged 40 or older are deemed most likely to test positive for the JAK2 marker; however, anyone living in Carbon, Luzerne or Schuylkill County is eligible for the screening.

Blood draw clinics will be set up in Hazelton, Tamaqua and Pottsville from Aug. 3-6 and Aug. 10-13. Individuals are encouraged to make an appointment ahead of time by signing up at the public meeting or by calling 1-877-525-4860.

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