A Terrifying Illness Stalks Seaside Australia: Flesh-Consuming Ulcers

He has handled greater than a thousand sufferers, each in Australia and abroad, for the illness. Lots of these in Australia are older, however others are younger academics, laborers and even youngsters.

He measures their lesions gently with a ruler, marking them to trace their development. Although they seem like the stuff of nightmares — some have ulcers that eat all the best way to the bone — most sufferers describe them as painless. The flesh-eating toxin produced by the micro organism presents a peculiar horror: It each weakens the immune response and numbs the flesh it’s consuming. It’s “fairly a rare organism, actually,” Dr. O’Brien mentioned of the bacterium, “and a formidable foe.”

In Mr. Courtney’s case, the ulcer had ravaged the highest half of his foot earlier than medical doctors may give a analysis. They’ve since carried out surgical procedures to take away the necrotic, concrete-like tissue. “Until you eliminate that lifeless flesh, the pores and skin won’t ever heal,” mentioned Dr. Adrian Murrie, a doctor on the clinic who has been treating Mr. Courtney.

Different sufferers with much less extreme circumstances typically decline therapy, as a substitute choosing pure cures like making use of warmth and clay. Although the physique can sometimes battle off smaller ulcers, such therapies can pose an actual hazard in severe circumstances, Dr. O’Brien mentioned.

Generally, the course of therapy is antibiotics. Beforehand, the illness was largely handled with surgical procedure, however with higher drugs, the prognosis has vastly improved in recent times. “It was thought the antibiotics didn’t work,” Dr. O’Brien mentioned. “As a result of it truly will get worse earlier than it will get higher.”

Nonetheless, for now, prevention is near unimaginable.

“We don’t know how one can cease it,” he mentioned. But when the reply is to be discovered anyplace, he mentioned, it’s in Australia.

For Mr. Courtney, his battle with the illness is way from over. Medical doctors anticipate his therapy to final not less than one other six months.

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