Saturday, June 3, 2017

Yearning for a Rare Disease

When I was an intern, a young man came to our emergency room with fever, body aches, and general miseries.  It seemed routine until we noticed a spotty rash on his hand and feet.  Then everyone perked up.  Rash-on-hands-and-feet is a medical puzzle with plenty of answers.  We racked our brains for diseases that qualified.

“Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” said an intern.
“It could be secondary syphilis,” said a resident.
“Maybe typhus,” another suggested.

An old professor arrived, looked over the patient, and then turned to us. “Those are all possibilities, but any virus can produce that rash,” he explained. “It’s probably the flu.” Sadly, from our point of view, he was right.

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