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February 21, 2001
Contact: Mary Kay Sones
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
and Promotion
(770) 4885131

Press Release

CDC, PAHO create cross-border initiative to address U.S./Mexico diabetes epidemic

In response to the growing numbers of people on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border who have diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and other U.S. and Mexican health agencies have created the Collaborative U.S.-Mexico Border Diabetes Prevention and Control Project.

"We are pleased to collaborate in this important effort to identify and control diabetes along the U.S. and Mexico border, " said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan. "Knowing the prevalence of diabetes and its risk factors along the border will help us develop appropriate prevention and control programs to reduce this debilitating disease and its related costs."

The 5-year collaborative project will determine the prevalence of diabetes among the U.S.-Mexico border population and develop binational diabetes prevention and control programs.

Current data suggest that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death for Americans living along the border and the third leading cause of death for Mexicans living on the other side of the border. It is estimated that nearly 30 percent of residents along the U.S.-Mexico border have diabetes and that one third don't know they have the disease.

"Much of the human suffering that accompanies this disease can be alleviated by sound prevention and control measures adopted by people and governments," said Dr. George A.O. Alleyne, PAHO director said. "Once symptoms are recognized, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key."

Agencies involved in the new cross-country initiative include PAHO's El Paso Field Office, the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Association, the Secretariat of Health of Mexico, CDC's diabetes control programs in the four U.S. border states (Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas), the diabetes programs in the six Mexican states (Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas), the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, and the El Paso Diabetes Association.

A recent study conducted for the Paso del Norte Health Foundation by the El Paso Diabetes Association found that more than 50 percent of the local population in El Paso cannot name a single symptom of diabetes. Failure to recognize and properly treat the disease can lead to heart disease, hypertension, and cerebrovascular disease, as well as to serious problems treating infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Type 1, previously called juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in its development. Type 2 diabetes, previously called adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; risk factors include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.

People with diabetes can have some or none of the following symptoms: sporadic tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, frequent urination, extreme hunger, excessive thirst, very dry skin, and sores or skin infections that are slow to heal. More severe signs of the disease include blurred vision, sudden weight loss, and unexplained weakness, fatigue, or lethargy.

For more information about diabetes, call toll-free 1-877-CDC-DIAB, or visit CDC's Diabetes Public Health Resource at or in Spanish

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local national and international organizations. For more information please visit the CDC Web site:

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This page last reviewed February 27, 2001

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