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Multiple Sclerosis International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 124578, 7 pages
Research Article

Spatial Analysis of Global Prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis Suggests Need for an Updated Prevalence Scale

Department of Therapist Assistant, Okanagan College, 1000 KLO Road, Kelowna, BC, Canada V1Y 4X8

Received 8 November 2013; Revised 12 January 2014; Accepted 13 January 2014; Published 16 February 2014

Academic Editor: Sten Fredrikson

Copyright © 2014 Brett J. Wade. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with an unknown aetiology. MS has a geographic pattern of prevalence with high prevalence rates between 45 degrees and 65 degrees north. In much of the northern hemisphere, there exists a prevalence gradient, with increasing prevalence from south to north. While genetics may partially explain the latitudinal gradient, it is not strong enough to exclude exogenous variables. Kurtzke initially came up with a three-zone scale for low, medium, and high prevalence zones. He defined high as 30 or more per 100,000, medium as 5–29 per 100,000, and low as less than 5 per 100,000. In this study, 131 geographic datasets (geocases) were spatially analyzed to determine whether the existing global prevalence scale needed to be updated. The mean prevalence rate was 67.83/100,000 with rates ranging from 350/100,000 to 0/100,000. The results of this study suggest that the commonly referenced scale for global MS prevalence needs to be updated with added zones to reflect significantly higher prevalence rates in some areas of the world. We suggest a five-zone scale: very high (170–350), high (70–170), medium (38–70), low (13–38), and very low (0–13).