Woman feared she would lose her leg after suffering from flesh-eating infection on foot
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Featured Image Credit: 7 News
An Australian woman thought she would lose her leg after contracting a flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Grandmother Fiona Wordie, from Melbourne, began to experience ‘shocking’ pain after the infection caused an ulcer to form on her foot leaving her in ‘agony’.
Wordie said she felt had an itch on her foot, which she dismissed as a harmless spider bite, but within days the sore had grown and became painful, making her realise something was right.
She went to hospital where doctors were initially baffled by her condition.
Speaking to 7 News, Wordie said: “The foot was all purple, the skin was all peeling off.”
The 66-year-old was later told she had a Buruli ulcer, which she believes she picked up from a birdhouse that has a possum living inside.
She explained: “[I have a] birdhouse ... [and] a possum lives in there.
“I’ve got a little pond there that was full of water and sludge, and mosquitos everywhere.”
According to the World Health Organisation: “Buruli ulcer is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium ulcerans.
“The bacterium produces a toxin that causes the skin damage. Without early treatment, Buruli ulcer can lead to long-term disability.
"The germ that causes Buruli ulcer belongs to the same family of those that cause tuberculosis and leprosy. It is still unclear how people get Buruli ulcer from the environment.”
Wordie went on: “I was in agony. I got nerve pain in the wound, and that is the worst pain I have ever felt.
“It was shocking. I thought I was going to lose my leg.”
Research is still ongoing into how the disease spreads to humans, but it's believed it could be carried by possums and mosquitos.
The infection can form in the bottom layers of the skin, which can cause ulcers and skin loss.
Infectious diseases professor Eugene Athan told the news outlet that one theory on how the disease spread is through possums or soil contamination.
“In their (the possums) droppings, in the environment, they potentially could introduce the bacteria into an area, a parkland where people might spend time, walk the dogs,” he said.
“There is also an association with water bodies, rivers, lakes etcetera.”
Research also suggests there is a link between diabetes and Buruli ulcers.
“We found two key risk factors among hosts, the risk factor of having underlying diabetes as a diagnosis increases the risk of developing the disease,” Athan said.
“The other risk group were those who spent a lot of time working, or spending time outdoors.”