WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 70-year-old woman was found in a case study to have developed a rare disease after experiencing purple, mottled rashes all over her body during a cold snap in New York.
- The woman was diagnosed to have the condition called livedo reticularis, where the skin appears in a reticular pattern.
- Furthermore, the woman was also found to be suffering from cold agglutinin disease where red blood cells are clumped due to exposure to cold weather.
A brief spell of freezing weather in New York where temperatures dropped to -9 °C caused a 70-year-old woman to suffer from symptoms of a rare disease which rendered her entire body with purple and marbled rashes.
The woman visited an outpatient New York clinic after developing rashes on her whole body and experiencing dizziness for the past week. She also had a viral respiratory tract infection two weeks before this incident, noted the case report published in the NEJM notes.
“On physical examination, she had a generalized, macular, non-blanching rash in a reticular pattern with purplish discoloration consistent with livedo reticularis,” said the report. A non-blanching rash is a skin rash that doesn’t fade when pressed or viewed with a glass.
The Mayo Clinic states that livedo reticularis is a condition consisting of mottled and purpled skin that appears in a “net-like” pattern. It is thought to be caused by circulation problems.
After testing her blood, doctors diagnosed the woman with cold agglutinin disease.
In an email to Newsweek, Konika Sharma and Anush Patel, from the Bassett Medical Center in New York, who also handled the woman’s case said, “Cold agglutinin disease is a rare form of autoimmune hemolytic anemia—meaning [the] body’s own immune system starts to act on its own red blood cells membrane.”
Agglutination is the clumping of red blood cells impeding the free flow of red cells. It is ‘cold’ because symptoms get triggered when patients are exposed to cold environments, leading to red cell agglutination, explained Sharma and Patel.
The team believed that the woman’s condition was likely aggravated by the viral infection the woman had at the time.
“The patient we described had a severe exacerbation, based on profound anemia,” said Sharma and Patel.
After her dizziness lessened, the patient was discharged, but the rash persisted.
Sharma and Patel said that the extensive rash on the woman was because of the blood vessels in her body were all subjected under low oxygen tension caused by exposure to cold-causing agglutination.
Although her rash improved a bit with a warm environment, the rash didn’t completely fade away due to the extreme winters in the north. She was then placed on rituximab treatment which took two to four weeks to stop the immune activation while continuing other treatments like blood transfusions and keeping warm.”
Cold agglutinin disease is a rare disease that affects one person in a million, and also affects about 15 percent of sufferers of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.