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Toxic oil syndrome and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome: May 8-10, 1991, World Health Organization meeting report.

In May 1991, researchers and clinicians from throughout the world met at a workshop sponsored by the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization in collaboration with the Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, Spain, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Mental Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share information about two very similar diseases--toxic oil syndrome and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. In this paper the interpretation of conference proceedings is presented, current knowledge of the two disorders is summarized, and some possible areas for future research are mentioned. Toxic oil syndrome and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome have many similarities. Both are related to consumer products that were presumed to be safe but have been found to have numerous trace contaminants, many of which remain to be identified, including the etiologic agents of both disorders. Both illnesses affect patients clinically by causing intense, incapacitating myalgias and a marked peripheral eosinophilia. Other rheumatologic manifestations are common in both, including arthralgias, sicca syndrome, scleroderma-like skin changes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and joint contractures. No clinical or laboratory feature has been found to be pathognomonic of either disease, and accurate diagnosis rests on the clinical judgment of the attending physician. Deaths have occurred in both diseases, and the cumulative mortality for each is approximately 2.5% for the first 2 years. Long-term complications include pulmonary hypertension, peripheral neuropathies, and joint contractures. Although treatment with corticosteroids has resulted in significant symptomatic relief in persons with either disorder, it does not alter the clinical course or long-term outcome. Research into the etiologic agents, preferred treatments, and ways to avoid similar problems in the future is needed.

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