More MS news articles for February 2001

Study to begin MS cases in Sugar Creek

Web posted Saturday, February 10, 2001
By Ronnie Wachter
The Examiner

The study of the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Sugar Creek is still in its infancy, the principal investigator said this week. Sugar Creek residents eager to learn its results have about a year and a half to wait, and the study is being done by case file, not by working with residents, he said.

Bill Schmidt, who is leading the study, said he will interview candidates for project coordinator next week. The project's results are expected to be released in November 2002.

Schmidt said the study will search to find if there is an inordinately high number of MS cases in the Sugar Creek area; if it should find that there is a high number, the project will not search for a cause.

"I would like us to either prove or disprove that there is or is not a high prevalence of MS," Schmidt said. "We're not set up to go beyond that."

Schmidt also said it will be conducted by examining the files of area residents with MS; the subjects of the files will not be contacted.

"We're going to be rather invisible to the community," he said. Schmidt said interviewing the subjects would bias the study.

The project was spawned by what seemed to be an unusual amount of MS cases reported in Sugar Creek. It comes on the heels of the release of results for an examination of brain cancer in Sugar Creek.

That study found no significant increase in brain cancer prevalence in Sugar Creek. Schmidt said that if the new study should find a higher rate of MS in Sugar Creek than other Midwestern areas, a separate study to find a cause would need to be funded.

The examination is being funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is also conducted identical studies in cities in Texas and Ohio. Schmidt said the three groups would work with each other, sharing information as they progress.

He said that officials with BP-Amoco, whose oil refinery in Sugar Creek was found in 1981 to be leaking oil into the ground, had been cooperating with the study.

"They have stated that they would be willing to help in any way they could," he said.

Schmidt, former administrator of the Jackson County Health Department, left the position after taking the lead role in the MS study. He cited a difference of opinions on unspecified matters, but said his separation with the county was on good terms. He is on contract with the county for the MS study.

Schmidt said the next step is to finish drawing up the project's protocol, which must be ap proved by the Institutional Re view Board.

To reach Ronnie Wachter, e-mail him at or call 350-6323.

Copyright 2000 The Examiner