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What is Lupus? Disease that killed Jacob Zuma’s son explained

August 07, 2019
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On Tuesday, a family spokesperson confirmed that Jacob Zuma’s son Vusi had passed away from an onset of Lupus, aged just 25.

Vusi is the youngest of five children Zuma had with deceased wife, Kate Mantsho. The news of his death has saddened everyone within political circles.

The EFF immediately offered their condolences to the Zuma family, in a touching display of solidarity with the divisive former leader and his family. Cyril Ramaphosa also shared his sympathies earlier this week.

Lupus isn’t a common disease, so we are having a look at the essential facts of the matter. Here’s everything you should know about the condition:

What is Lupus?

According to Mayo Clinic, Lupus is a disease that affects the autoimmune system. The body turns against itself, as a patient’s immune system begins attacking its own muscle tissue and vital organs.

It is not a hereditary disease, and victims will pick the condition up naturally. Lupus causes inflammation to joints as well as hampering essential brain and heart functions.

What are the symptoms of Lupus?

  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body.
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity).
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or stress.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss.

If you have a few of these symptoms combined, it would be worth a visit to your doctor. It may not be Lupus itself, though – and that’s what makes the condition so hard to diagnose.

Many of the ailments listed are all common in flu-like illnesses. There’s no particular pattern to its development, either: You could get numerous symptoms in a short space of time, or the occasional one here and there. It really is difficult to identify.

What is the mortality rate of Lupus?

Between 80 – 90% of people with Lupus are expected to make a full recovery. However, that still leaves a range of 10 – 20% of people who lose their lives to it.

For context, around 1 000 cases of Listeriosis have been identified in South Africa since January 2017, with more than 200 people succumbing to the bacterial infection. The mortality rate is as good as on par with that of Lupus.

How is Lupus treated?

If a patient’s symptoms are “mild”, a prescription of anti-inflammatories can tackle the disease. However, more severe cases require doses of corticosteroids and even chemotherapy once it reaches an advanced stage.

Regular visits to the doctor and avoiding exposure to the sun are also recommended courses of action for those who contract this illness.

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