SANTA FE, N.M. — Federal and state health officials on Friday worked to discover what caused an outbreak of a rare and sometimes fatal blood disorder.
Thirty-one cases had been reported by Friday in six widely scattered states, including 21 in New Mexico, as health authorities sought to determine if the outbreak was linked to the use of L-Tryptophan, an amino acid dietary supplement.
The disease, eosinophilia, is characterized by high counts of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell. Symptoms may include sharp muscular pain, fatigue, fever and rashes.
Dr. Millicent Eidson, environmental epidemiologist with the state Health and Environment Department, said 21 cases of eosinophilia have been confirmed in New Mexico, and an additional case involving a nearby Arizona resident was reported.
Eidson said 16 of the 17 women patients and one of the five men had taken L-Tryptophan, which is often sold in health food stores to promote relaxation and to ease premenstrual syndrome and sleeping disorders.