A family in West Michigan is raising awareness about a rare disorder that took the life of a 24-year-old woman.
Cassandra Campbell’s family says she contracted Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) from some medicine she was taking for a bug bite. She eventually succumbed to the disease, WXMI-TV reports.
SJS is an extremely rare ailment that can be caused by antibiotics like penicillin or Bactrim. That said, it afflicts less than 1 percent of the people who use these medicines every year.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the medication and therapy causes of SJS are: Anti-gout medications, such as allopurinol; Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve); Medications to fight infection, such as penicillin; Medications to treat seizures or mental illness (anticonvulsants and antipsychotics); and Radiation therapy. The infectious causes are: Herpes (herpes simplex or herpes zoster); Pneumonia; HIV and Hepatitis.
“It was tough, it was tough. It’s the biggest fear I ever had was losing one of my children,” Campbell’s mother, Cindy Shoemaker, told the news station.
Campbell had given birth on June 29, but she died of SJS only three weeks later.
“She had been bitten by a bug, we assumed,” said Shoemaker. “She was nursing at the time, so we got antibiotics, and they put her on two different ones.”
Campbell visited the ER two different times to get treatment for flu-like symptoms and a rash, which spread rapidly over the next several days.
“I got a call from her boyfriend saying she couldn’t see. Her eyes were all matted shut, and she couldn’t walk on her feet,” said Shoemaker.
Campbell was rushed to the hospital on July 13, and she was diagnosed with SJS the following day.
They started treating Campbell as a burn patient, admitting her into the Bronson Burn and Wound Center, because her skin was blistering and peeling off. The tissue in her body was basically breaking down, WXMI reports.
Doctors performed CPR on her three different times before she was gone from SJS.
The disease is treatable, but not always curable. Pharmacy doctors say that because SJS is so rare, not many people know about it.