Disease Has Girl's Immune System Attacking Her Body

A 10-year-old Canadian girl has been diagnosed with a rare condition that is causing her immune system to attack her body, the Daily Gleaner reported.

Emily Beaulieu, of Tay Creek in New Brunswick, became sick shortly after school started last September. She had rashes that would not go away, fatigue and by Christmas was walking poorly.

Last month, she began undergoing a series of tests at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax, where doctors determined she was suffering from juvenile dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own healthy tissue, according to the report.

In the U.S., there are about three cases per million children each year, leading to 300 to 500 new cases annually. The symptoms of the disease include chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness that is preceded or accompanied by a rash, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is unknown what causes the disease but it may be associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, according to the NIH.

The disease had made it difficult for Emily to brush her hair and teeth. She also had difficulty getting from a sitting to standing position and doctors felt her bones are so fragile they could break, the Daily Gleaner reported.

There is no cure for the disease but medication, physical therapy, exercise, heat therapy, assistive devices and rest may help treat the symptoms. The standard medication is a corticosteroid drug, given either in pill form or intravenously, according to the NIH.

Emily must travel back and forth to Halifax for treatment and she will need an aide to help her in the coming school year.

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