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Canadian boy diagnosed with rare autoimmune disorder: Doctors baffled upon examining symptoms

Canada: A 12-year-old boy with a bright yellow tongue was diagnosed with a serious and rare autoimmune disorder that caused his immune system to attack and destroy his own red blood cells.

A report published in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that the boy went to the hospital after experiencing a sore throat, dark urine, abdominal pain and pale skin for several days.

In the beginning, doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, diagnosed the boy with jaundice. Jaundice causes skin and eye whites to yellow. They were, however, baffled by the bright yellow tint on his tongue.

After running a few tests, the doctors determined the boy had anemia and the Epstein-Barr virus — a common virus that usually affects children and has also been linked to autoimmune conditions. The boy suffers from cold agglutinin disease, a rare autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the body’s own red blood cells. Despite the fact that this condition is triggered by cold temperatures, doctors suspect the boy contracted it as a result of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

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US National Institute of Health states that cold agglutinin disease will cause anemia, as well as a fast breakdown of red blood cells, resulting in bilirubin buildup, which will cause jaundice. The boy underwent blood transfusions and was treated with oral steroids for seven weeks to reduce his immune system’s activity. The report said the boy had ‘recovered well’ after leaving the hospital and that the colour of his tongue gradually returned to normal.


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