It wasn’t the first time that Cody Strickland, a self-described “outdoorsy electrician”, came into contact with poison ivy and experienced the itchy rash that comes from the plant’s chemicals. It wasn’t a big deal, however—Strickland knew to take care of it the next day at the local hospital. That was in early February, but by the beginning of March, the 21-year-old was dead from a disease known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is not caused by poison ivy. Rather, it is caused by a pill reaction, but the resulting effects are pretty gruesome. Specifically, the unpredictable drug reaction makes your skin and internal organ-lining fall off, literally, in sheets. Any drug can trigger the reaction, but doctors aren’t sure why certain individuals are affected and some aren’t. However, some doctors hypothesize that it’s a genetic predisposition. Luckily, the disease is estimated to effect just a few people per million a year, but if the disease does strike, it does so without warning.
While Strickland’s case of Stevens-Johnson syndrome was particularly severe and aggressive (he lost almost 95% of the skin on his body and internal organs), most people survive. The Mayo Clinic provides the follow information on the symptoms and treatment of Stevens-Johnson syndrome:
· Stevens-Johnson syndrome usually begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters, causing the top layer of your skin to fall off.
· If you suspect that you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, it is important to seek medical attention since the condition usually requires hospitalization.
· Treatment focuses on eliminating underlying causes, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications.
· Recovery can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of the condition.
· If your doctor determines that your Stevens-Johnson was caused by a reaction to a drug, you will most likely need to avoid taking that medication and any other related medications in the future.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.