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February 2017

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome—A Look Back

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University, New York
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(2):240. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0180

Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) was first described in 1922 by the pediatricians A. M. Stevens and F. C. Johnson,1 who reported 2 cases of New York City children with a febrile, mucocutaneous eruption of a presumed infectious etiology (Figure). The 2 boys were from different neighborhoods, and there was no evidence of contact with one another. However, their clinical courses, including high fever, purulent eye and mouth discharge, and seasonal presentation, raised suspicion of an infectious cause. Apart from blindness (total in 1 child, partial in the other) both children made full recoveries with only supportive care received at Bellevue Hospital. Both boys were initially misdiagnosed as having hemorrhagic measles or “black measles” until Stevens and Johnson astutely recognized that the clinical morphologic characteristics and associated symptoms were quite unique and likely constituted a new entity.

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