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January 22, 2005

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Winchester, California, USA:

My two year old son was diagnosed with type 1 two months ago. A week prior to his diagnosis, he had a very high fever of 104.5 degrees F. Is it possible that a virus could have settled in or around his pancreas? I have heard of a similar case where a young teenage boy had the same thing happen one week before his type 1 diagnosis. Is there something to this?

Answer:

Type 1 diabetes is a autoimmune disease whose clinical onset is the late final consequence of a relatively long prodromal phase when the autoimmune mechanisms (autoantibodies and T cells) have been continuously destroying the own beta cells. Virus infection is seen only as the final step that, through the stress of the viral infection, makes the insulin defect clinically evident.

MS