Story By: John Feng, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Asia Wire Report
This is the Chinese teenager whose mouth and lips began rotting away after contracting a skin disease so rare none of her doctors had ever heard of it before.
The unnamed female patient, 17, had symptoms including acute kidney failure and vomiting, and it was nearly a full week before medics diagnosed her with Stevens-Johnson syndrome – also known as SJS.
The severe skin condition affects just one to two people per million per year, with a mortality rate of between 30 to 50 percent in severe cases, according to a report by Taizhou Central Hospital in Zhejiang Province in East China.
The teenager was hospitalised at local facility after she began experiencing severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Her condition worsened a day later when her mouth began to hurt and her lips festered. Blisters and peeling affected her lips until she could neither eat nor swallow food on the third day, the 19th January report said.
By day four, the girl was suffering from acute kidney failure, and she was transferred to Taizhou Central Hospital and placed under the care of kidney specialist Yu Haifeng.
While continuing to treat the young patient’s severe symptoms, Doctor Yu and his team were finally able to confirm an SJS diagnosis.
Doctor Yu, who said he had never come across SJS in his more than three decades in the field, said research on the condition was limited, with past cases in mainland China only reported in the capital Beijing and the major southern port city of Guangzhou.
The medic noted: “It’s very likely this was Taizhou’s first ever case of SJS.
“With no guidelines for treatment and very little research, we could only improvise and treat her according to her evolving condition.”
The teenager’s organ function and skin condition began showing signs of improvement a week later, but she is likely to require several more months of follow-ups and examinations.
The precise cause of SJS is still unknown, but it is thought to be the result of a viral infection triggered by medications such as antibiotics.
Early symptoms of SJS include fever and flu-like symptoms, followed by blisters and peeling on the mouth and lips, leading to serious complications including sepsis, pneumonia and multiple organ failure.
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