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National City doctor uses app to diagnose rare disease

A new smart phone app is helping doctors diagnose rare illnesses in young children.

NATIONAL CITY (CBS 8) - A new smart phone app is helping doctors diagnose rare illnesses in young children. A National City pediatrician used the app on his iPad to diagnose a 15-month-old girl with Kawasaki's disease.

When Dr. Alejando Diaz sees patients at the La Maestra clinic in National City, the exam is a mixture of the old and the new, including a cutting-edge smart phone app that Dr. Diaz uses on his iPad.

"So if you don't know what you're dealing with, you can pick adult skin, pediatric skin, they eyes, the mouth," he explained.

The app allows doctors to enter specific symptoms of skin problems. Then it spits out a list of results, including photos of the possible diseases that can cause the rash.

"I can have a neonate, I can have a small child, or a specific scenario," Diaz said.

Last month he used the app to help diagnose a 15-month-old girl who had a fever and a rash.

"She had this rash which I see sometimes with colds, but hers looked a little bit more than just the average rash," he said.

The VisualDX app came back with a diagnosis of Kawasaki's disease, a potentially life-threatening illness.

"The coronary arteries, they can develop these little out-pouchings or bubbles, which can pop and lead to the child dying of a heart attack," Diaz said.

Symptoms include swelling of the hands, a red tongue with tiny spots and a fever that lasts for days.

The girl was sent to the emergency room at Children's Hospital.

"They came to the ER, diagnosed her there and she was treated by that evening and she was getting the treatment she needed," Diaz said.

The app also ties in to online databases that keep Dr. Diaz up to speed on the latest treatments. The app costs doctors about $300 per year, but the company also has a free web site to help consumers diagnose skin rashes.

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