News: Flesh-Eating Bacteria from Cat Scratch Leads to Death for Man in Thailand

Flesh-Eating Bacteria from Cat Scratch Leads to Death for Man in Thailand

Phuket, the island in Thailand typically associated with paradise and most recently, illegally-run hotels, now has a different problem—a stray cat with the claws of death.

Weera Pantip, a 63-year-old man with a weakened immune system, fell ill and died from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease he caught from a cat scratch.

Infection resulting from a cat scratch or bite is not uncommon. However, these infections can be especially deadly if they turn into the dangerous flesh-eating and fast-moving necrotizing fasciitis, especially for people with weakened immune systems. This infection can even (rarely) claim limbs from healthy people. When something like strep turns into necrotizing fasciitis, it burrows deep into tissues by secreting damaging toxins.

The stray cat was from Pantip's local neighborhood and scratched his right shin and calf on January 16. Two days later, Pantip was admitted to Vachira Phuket Hospital. Doctors attempted to stop the disease from spreading and amputated Pantip's right leg, but the bacteria ultimately flourished and Patnip passed away on March 9, 2017.

"I don't think it is important to find this cat," Chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, Jirapan Taepan, told Coconuts Bangkok on January 23, 2017. "The bacteria that caused Weera's infection is common and can be found almost anywhere."

That's true enough, but once the bacteria gets deep into the skin, it can become dangerous quickly. Seek medical help if you're ever bitten or scratched by an animal and the wound does not heal, you develop a red or purple area around the wound, and are accompanied by swelling, fever, chills, vomiting, and fatigue. Patients with necrotizing fasciitis often complain of pain out of proportion to the wound. It is very, very, very important to seek medical attention if you get any of these symptoms after even a minor skin wound.

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Cover image via Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/Wikimedia Commons

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