Rare Disease Reported In Singapore

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: If you have a sore throat, coupled with neck pain, giddiness and a fever that doesn't go away, you should see a doctor immediately. You may be suffering from the “Lemierre's syndrome” which is rare and potentially lethal.

Experts said, there have been fewer than 10 such cases in Singapore over the past 10 years. But this month alone, two cases have been reported.

One of the patients was 32-year-old Vincent Leo.

He thought it was just the flu when he had a sore throat and fever two weeks ago. But when he did not get better, he saw a doctor and found out that he had Lemierre's.

“I kept vomiting and having diarrhoea at night. My left side of my face swelled up a little too. It was even painful to eat and drink,” said Mr Leo.

Dr Jagadesan Raghuram, Chief and Senior Consultant of the Department of Respiratory Medicine with Changi General Hospital, said: “The common bacteria that we have in our oral cavity usually causes this disease…some of these bacteria for one reason or another becomes pathogenic, meaning they invade, and become a cause of the disease.

“What it does is the bacteria, apart from causing local problems like gum disease or local cavities…it can actually spread through the tissues in the oral cavity into the neck…the bacteria that causes this infection actually causes inflammation in the surrounding vessels of the neck.

“And the bacteria can actually seep to other organs like the lung, liver, kidneys, spleen. And if the infection is not controlled or treated aggressively, upfront, this can cause organ failure and death.”

Dr Raghuram said the disease affects young adults between 20 and 40 years old. Treatment includes a four-week course of antibiotics. For the first two weeks, the patient needs to take the antibiotic intravenously in hospital followed by another two weeks orally. Antibiotic treatment can be stretched to six weeks where needed.

He added that patients are also treated with blood-thinners for three to six months because the disease usually involves blood clots in the veins. Dr Raghuram said medical records show that only one patient here has died from the disease. He said the rare disease occurs in about only one in every 1.25 million people.

-CNA/ac

Channel News Asia

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