The Federal Minister of Health, Issac Adewole, has revealed that there is a new disease in Nigeria which has killed a Nigerian while another is currently undergoing treatment at the National Hospital Abuja.
Briefing journalists in Abuja, on Friday, Mr. Adewole said the health condition known as Stephen Johnson Syndrome (SJS) was an unusual allergic reactions in Nigeria and some parts of Europe.
He said, “We have to find a means to communicate with Nigerians,so they should all be aware of this dangerous disease and it is the sole business of government to enlighten the society by trying to increase their awareness, knowledge and to improve their quality way of life.”
Dr. Olanrewaju Falodun a Senior Consultant Physician/Dermatologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, shed more light on the disease and the cases being handled in his hospital.
“Stephens Johnson Syndrome, is an immune complex mediated hypersensitivity reaction that typically involves the skin and mucous membranes and was first described in 1922 by Albert Stevens and Frank Johnson,” Mr. Falodun said.
SJS is a rare and unpredictable reaction, and is also a minor form of toxic epidermal necrolysis with less than 10 percent body surface area involvement, the consultant said.
“SJS is a rare but serious and potentially life-threatening contagious drug reaction. Incidence of SJS is estimated between 1.1 and 7.1 cases per million per year and is more prevalent in women than men. Incidence in Europe is two per million per year” Mr. Falodun said.
He confirmed that two cases were being treated at the Abuja National Hospital, saying one patient already passed while the other was still undergoing treatment.
He said the incidence was higher in Africa due to extensive use of herbal preparations and the prevalence of HIV.
He listed the symptoms of the SJS disease to include fever, sore throat, running nose, fatigue, general aches and pains, ulcers in mouth, genitals, anal regions as well as conjunctivitis.
The health complications, Mr. Falodun said, are pigmentation problems, skin scarring, scarred genitals, joint pains, lung diseases, obstructive disorders and eye complications, adhesions, ulcers, and blindness.
He however said the cause of the disease remained unknown in a quarter to half of cases but that self-medications appeared to be one of its causes.
He advised Nigerians to avoid misuse of drugs, while individuals with previous drug reactions should always inform healthcare practitioners so that in future they would be able to predict who is at risk of the disease using genetic screening.
Here are ways Mr. Falodun said SJS could be managed by hospitals:
1. Cessation of suspected drugs
2. Hospital Admission: Preferably in burns unit/intensive care
3. Nutritional and Fluid replacement
4. Temperature maintenance
5. Pain relief