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Symptoms of deadly Degos disease can be overlooked

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Symptoms of deadly Degos disease can be overlooked
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Degos is a fatal disease that you may not know much about. In this edition of Healthy Living, Marcie Fraser tells us the first symptom is something far too common.

"At first I thought it was acne or something like that," said Ernie Dupont, a Degos disease patient.

Because many teens experience acne, Dupont didn't think much of the spots on his body, until they spread and didn't go away.

The number of lesions grew to his back, torso, and chest. After a skin biopsy, he was diagnosed with Degos disease, or malignant atrophic papulosis.

"Malignant because unfortunately all of these patients have died. There are only 200 reported cases in the literature and it's rare, very uncommon," said Dr. Aixa Toledo, a rheumatologist.

Patients can have up to 600 lesions. The center of the lesions are white, which is a sign the tissue is dying. Degos disease causes the blood vessels to occlude, blocking blood flow to other essential parts of the body.

"Most of them what they die from is perforation of the bowel," said Dr. Toledo.

There are two types of Degos. Cutaneous effects only the skin and is not deadly. Dupont's sister suffers from that type. Systemic effects the connective tissue throughout the body, and impacts major organs like the brain and heart.

Dupont said, "I started getting a fever, a lot of pain."

"When they have systemic they have all have died, so that is why it makes this case so is interesting. He's been alive since 2009," noted Dr. Toledo.

Ernie is one of two people currently living with Degos disease but his future is unknown.

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