View Full Version : Re: A strange disease puzzling Chinese medical community

Bob Norman
02-12-1995, 07:31 AM
I am a biomechanist, not a medical doctor and the following may not be at
all relevant but here goes anyway.

There have been 15 cases in the Province of Ontario, Canada, since Oct.
30, 1994, of a relatively rare infection caused by streptococcal bacteria
run amuck in some people who are vulnerable to certain strains of strep
A. Some people see flesh falling off their bones while others develop
toxic shock. The most famous case in Canada is to Lucien Bouchard, leader
of the Bloc Quebecois political party in Quebec, who lost a leg to the
disease in December and almost died. The bacteria enters through a break
in the skin, start to multiply very fast and attack the flesh, spreading
at up to 2 - 3 cm per hour! It's called necrotizing myositis or
necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating disease). Symptoms are severe pain in
the infected area then progressive bruising with pustulent bursting up
through the skin and rotting the flesh.

The mechanism is not known for sure, apparently, but it is hypothesized
that the killer strain strep A superantigens stimulate T-cells to produce
excess cytokines and large numbers of antibodies are released and attack
the body instead of the bacteria.

If Dr. Xiangdong Huang has not solved the problem already and if he has
not ruled out necrotizing fasciitis or necrotizing myositis, perhaps he
could contact the Ontario Medical Association, Toronto Ontario, Canada or
the Canadian Medical Association, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, or Drs Donald
Low or Allison McGeer, microbiologists at Mr. Sinai Hospital, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada who are doing research on the disease.

Bob Norman, University of Waterloo, Canada

On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, yonghua lu wrote:

> Hi Everyone:
> I know our BIOMCH-L network is not a biomedical or medical list. But I think the following news regarding a strange disease, which is puzzling the whole medical communityto in China, may concern some experts in our community. If anyone has any comments, you may just respond to the address at the end of the text.
> Thanks.
> Yonghua Lu
> Clemson University
> -------------Message copied from: "China News Digest - US Regional News (CND-US III)" , Feb. 10, 1995-----------------
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 2. Reader Calling for Help: A Young Chinese Girl Is Slowly Being
> Eaten Away by a Strange Disease ............. 50
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Forwarded by: ding@sun10.sti.ac.cn (James Ding) 2/9/95
> A young Chinese girl suffering from a mysterious infection that
> causes progressive necrosis of her right forearm and left hand is arousing
> great concern in the whole country. After fighting the disease for nearly
> four months without any success, doctors in Beijing are appealing for
> emergency help from colleagues arround the world.
> The thirteen year old girl, Yang Xiaoxia comes from a poor farm family in
> Shangdong province in east China. The girl has been tortured by the
> mysterious disease for 8 months. The disease first began as a black spot
> under a finger nail of her right hand suspected by a local clinic as a stab
> wound caused by small stick or barb. A local doctor tried to get something
> out of the black spot, but thing got worse. She began to suffer from
> paronychiais and the infection soon spread to the whole right forearm and
> the mid-finger on her left hand.
> After treatments in five different hospitals in provincial capital Jinan
> had all failed, the girls parents took her to Beijing. She has hospitalized
> in a Beijing military hospital since early November, but the disease
> continued to progress despite all out efforts by the city's most elite
> doctors. The doctors have to amputate one third of her right forearm
> and three fingers of her left hand. Although the spreed of the infection
> seems a little bit slower, still there was no sign the infection will stop.
> What puzzled the whole medical community is that from the appearance of
> the affected surfaces it looks like an infection, but the infection have
> failed to response to any exsiting antibiotics and hyperbaric oxgen
> treatment. Bacterior cultures have always been negtive.
> Officals of the city public health bureau have invited experts to probe
> into the mystirous disease and welcomes any suggestions from doctors
> arround the world.
> We will continue to update information on Yang Xiaoxia's condition.
> If you have any suggestions, please send e-mail to the following
> address:
> Huangxd@BEPC2.IHEP.AC.CN
> Dr. Xiangdong Huang
> Institute of Medical Information,
> 27 Taiping Road,
> Beijing 100039,
> China.
> Tel:86-1-8215603
> Fax:86-1-8213044