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Flesh-eating Superbug Killed Father In Just Four Hours As Coroner Warns Of 'new Horror'

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Britain is facing ‘a new horror’ from a flesh eating superbug which killed a father just within four hours of him arriving in hospital with leg pains.

Richard Johnson, 54, had been given painkillers for what doctors thought was arthritis.

But when it was realised that he had the infection necrotising fasciitis surgeons amputated his left leg in a bid to save him.

They then watched in horror as black areas spread to his abdomen while they were operating, an inquest heard.

Mr Johnson, a shop manager from Crediton, Devon, died just a week after he complained of a sore throat.

A coroner has urged family doctors to be given more information necrotising fasciitis as a result of the case.

The disease, which is becoming more common, is an infection which sweeps through the body, internally and externally, so quickly that it can actually be seen spreading.

Mr Johnson had first been prescribed painkillers by his family doctor Jan Shorney.

He then developed a pain in his left ankle which Dr Shorney and an out-of-hours doctor believed to be arthritis.

His condition deteriorated so quickly that by the time his family rushed him to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital at 3.10 am it was too late to save him.

He was rushed straight into the operating theatre where surgeons tried to cut away the diseased tissue but found the infection was spreading too quickly to control.

Greater Devon coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of natural causes on Mr Johnson, who died at 7.00 am on November 18 last year.

A post mortem examination showed he died from septicaemia as a result of the necrotising fasciitis.

She said: ‘My intention is to write to the hospital to confirm the gravity of this case. Information about it is being disseminated and I recommend that is pursued.

‘This is a new horror reaching us and arising in out thoughts and it is important as many GPs are made aware of it as soon as possible and perhaps an early reaction can be stimulated.

‘I do not have any evidence that earlier action would have made a difference in this case.

‘Mr Johnson began to suffer a sore throat in mid November which developed into fulminating necrotising fasciitis.

‘The family have my deepest sympathies for this tragic loss.’

Family doctor Dr Jan Shorney said Mr Johnson visited her on November 11 with a sore throat and she advised him to take painkillers.

He asked for a home visit on November 17, less than 24 hours before he died, and complained of a left ankle which was sore despite having suffered no injury.

There was only slight swelling and no redness and his pulse and temperature were normal and she prescribed stronger painkillers and an anti-inflammatory drug.

She advised him to go into surgery for a blood test if it did not clear up.

He called 45 minutes later to say the pain was not going away and was told to carry on taking the medicines.

He was in so much pain that by 9.30pm his family contacted the out-of-hours service and took him to the walk-in centre at the hospital in Exeter where he was seen by on-call GP Dr Patrick Fingleton.

He examined the swollen ankle and saw no breaks in the skin. He diagnosed arthritis and prescribed oral morphine.

He believed the earlier painkillers had not worked because the patient was also suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting.

He said he was shocked to hear of Mr Johnson’s death and had met the consultant microbiologist at the hospital Dr Marina Morgan to learn more about necrotising fasciitis.

He said: ‘I have been a doctor for 12 years and a GP for five or six years and I have seen a lot of painful ankles and lots of cases of diarrhoea and vomiting but I had never seen a case of necrotising fasciitis.’

Sore throat, ankle hurting, your going to DIE!!!!

He's a story for the hypochondriacs on the site.

An awful way to go being eaten alive.

Any doctors on here prepared to say how common it really is and the likelihood of us all dying from it.

Can it be treated or is the only treatment to cut away the diseased location?

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Buy one as a pet.


I have most of the bugs I've spent significant time working on. This one is one of my two favourites. It's the knife and fork that does it.*

*I know, I'm odd, but the existence of these cuddly toys prove that, for a microbiologist, I'm quite normal.

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Any doctors on here prepared to say how common it really is and the likelihood of us all dying from it.

Can it be treated or is the only treatment to cut away the diseased location?

TBH, in the unlikely event you catch this, you are unlikely to be in any condition to be worrying about your treatment. You are going to be out for the count. There are some very pokey antibiotics for use in situations like this (that you will not get prescribed outside of intensive care). Whether they work for a given case or not is a bit hit and miss, dependant on many, many factors. And yes, cutting away the location (debridement) is pretty standard for these things, but, a) like I say, your not really likely to be in a state to know or care and b ), well, do you wnat to live or not?

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One of the biggest piles of tosh propagated by The Mail (well, actually, average by their standards) is that cleaners and nurses are to blame for MRSA. Actually, the rate of hospital infections (i.e. the bit that nurses and cleaners have control over) are comparable or better than the rest of Europe.

However, antibiotics are still prescribed by doctors to give themselves an easy life, which is why any infection has a high chance of being MRSA, whilst in most of Europe this is not the case.


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