Author(s): Brighton SW, de la Harpe AL, van Staden DJ, Badenhorst JH, Myers OL
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Abstract We report the findings of an epidemiological study of the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a rural population. The study was conducted in Venda, a very remote part of South Africa. Much of the population still follows an age old traditional lifestyle. A detailed hut-to-hut survey of 543 respondents comprising 97\% of the population of one village was conducted. This included clinical, serological and radiological studies. This was supplemented by questioning local traditional doctors and showing them photographs of typical hand deformities to ascertain if they knew of any cases with these deformities. The 3 hospitals draining the area were also surveyed. The detailed survey of 543 respondents revealed no cases of definite or probable RA using a modification of the Rome criteria. No cases were recognized by the traditional doctors. The 3 hospitals together had 14 cases of definite RA out of a population of about 520,000. This gave a prevalence of 0.0026\%. The marked difference in the prevalence of RA in this population as opposed to other Southern African studies as well as American and European studies is discussed.
This article was published in J Rheumatol
and referenced in Journal of General Practice