The recent death of a bubbly spirit, Danika Hurtault of Roseau, has left many people asking what is Lupus, the fatal disease that killed Hurtault.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks itsr own tissues and organs; 90% of the patients suffering from lupus are women of colour from the ages of 15 to 44.

To understand Lupus, the SUN spoke to Dr Samuel Christian of Urgent Care Clinic.

He noted that because Lupus is categorized as an autoimmune disease it is not contagious.

"It is not cancer but it can be as deadly as cancer and one of the hallmarks of Lupus even in developed countries is that most people are misdiagnosed for a long time on average of six years in many cases."

Dr. Christian said that the most common sign of Lupus is what is known as the "butterfly rash", which persons often confuse it with a cosmetic problem.

He said that a Lupus patient will have severe joint pain, inflammation, issues with their heart, lungs and other organs and persons will suffer from fatigue where they will not be able to work or play normally.

Anyone who's aware of the facts and figures of Lupus is commendable. However, there are a small group of ladies who not only know the facts but live with Lupus every day.
President of the Lupus Foundation Glorine Thomas has been battling Lupus from 2007.

Glorine told the SUN that prior to being diagnosed with Lupus she worked as a tourist vendor at the Old Market then from the market to her dad's construction company in the evening.

"Then one morning my two feet are big and I cannot get up in my bed…there is not one doctor in Dominica that doesn't have a record of me," she said.

She said that every hour she is presented with another symptom of Lupus she said that at any time any part of her body can go "haywire". Waking up and not being able to move was a horrific experience.

Although there is no cure for Lupus, Glorine said she is thankful for that one lucky day she met Dr. McIntyre.

"I have been everywhere trying to find out and when I came back to Dominica I got a flare up and went to Dr McIntyre and he had some Ross University Students with him and he asked me if I would like them to check me. And from the moment they checked me they asked Dr McIntyre- does she have Lupus?" she said.

At that moment Glorine was introduced to Lupus and she went home and did her own research on the internet.

So, based on the research and looking at the pictures of infected persons she said: "I thought I was going to die the next day."

However, she admitted that it was hard in the beginning but after being diagnosed she got an ease knowing that she could finally start the proper medication.

Unfortunately her internal organs were already damaged due to misdiagnosis.

Director of the Lupus Foundation Jo-Anne Commodore said: "They have gone to the hospital and asked by nurses and doctors what is Lupus. We don't fault them for that, we just think that there should be better education about it and that is something that we intend to approach the Government for."

Commodore said that laying blame is not helpful and now that there is better diagnosis, doctors have a higher likelihood of running into it in their career.

Meanwhile, Rosemary Timothy, the Secretary of the Lupus Foundation said Danika's death has "devastated" the group.

Timothy told the SUN that she has already lost three friends from Lupus and it's not getting easier.
"Danika will not die in vain because her death has caused a reaction that is going to make us even more proactive. Danika made Dominica realize that this is not a joke, this is serious fatal illness and its need to be addressed," said Timothy. - By Keisha Polydore