On a sobering note: throughout Ireland there are billboards advertising support for cystic fibrosis. CF, an inherited disease, shows up as a sticky substance that attacks the lungs, becomes debilitating in early adulthood and terminal somewhere in the mid-thirties. One in twenty-five Caucasians in the United States carries the gene. Only when both parents are carriers does a child have a chance of inheriting cystic fibrosis. Because carriers are symptom free, Americans aren’t aware of how prevalent this genetic trait is.
In Ireland, the numbers are staggering. This small country of five million has the highest percentage of carriers, and infected as well as multiple children infected in a single family, on the planet. One in every four people is a carrier. Seven percent of the population is symptomatic. More and more are affected as the population increases. Genetic testing for the trait is routine for obvious reasons. Coughing, colds that linger, salty-tasting skin are all symptoms of CF. At this time there is no cure. The lifespan of those with disease has increased over the years due to awareness and the benefits of modern medicine. Donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland are welcomed.