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Health Advocates Fighting Diabetes in the Delta

By Daniel Cherry | Published 09 Jun 2011 09:57pm | comments

The Mississippi Department of Health says diabetes contributes to the death of 16 hundred residents each year. MPB's Daniel Cherry goes to one of the most affected areas to find out what's being done to put the brakes on diabetes.

Mississippi is the worst in the nation for diabetes and the Delta has the highest rates in the state. The Mississippi Rural Health Association has a booth set up at the Indianola Wal Mart to give information to shoppers about the disease. Eugene Wharton is a type one diabetic who stopped by for more information.

"Prior to me retiring from work I wasn't a Type I diabetic because my job was very active. And just laying around, not doing things, becoming stagnant, and not exercising I found myself as a diabetes patient."

Wharton says before he was diagnosed he didn't know enough about diabetes. Santee Ezell is with the Mississippi Rural Health Association. She says people experience the symptoms, but many residents either ignore them or don't know what to look for.

"They think it's just a regular day and it's not, and it's almost too late. You go to the doctor the next time, Hey your feet need to be amputated, or Guess what you're losing your teeth and they're falling out. So we're just basically trying to let people know beforehand before it gets that far."

Ezell says tingling in the hands and feet, extreme fatigue, and unusual thirst are signs of developing diabetes. Willie Mae Duncan recently found out she's diabetic. She says she's had to make some changes in her lifestyle.

"I just work around the house and walk a little bit and take care of my feet because I don't want to lose anything off my body."

The Mississippi Department of Health's website says more than 270 thousand Mississippians have diabetes....about one third of those are undiagnosed. There will be similar booths in Wal Mart stores across the Delta throughout June.





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