Why the Zebra?

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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is considered to be a rare genetic disease that affects the connective tissues, or collagen. Collagen is the metaphorical “glue” of the body. It helps hold together our skin, joints, blood vessels, and organs. Because collagen is found all over the body, the symptoms and manifestations of EDS vary widely. This is why geneticists say: “If you can’t connect the issues, think connective tissues.” You can learn more about the symptoms of EDS, and how to manage it here: The Ehlers-Danlos Society

People with EDS and other rare diseases are referred to as zebras because they are medical anomalies. In medical school, students are often taught to “think horses, not zebras” when they hear hoof beats. This is a logical approach, that helps doctors look for the simplest explanation for a person’s difficulties. However; zebras do exist, and once the simplest explanations are ruled out medical professionals sometimes forget to explore the possibility of rare disease. As a result, diagnosis is often delayed and complicated. The community of people living with rare disease has banded together across social media platforms and uses the zebra as their mascot.