The Grapevine

Cat Scratch Leaves Woman With Deadly Flesh-Eating Bacteria

A simple cuddle with a cat left a woman in a life-threatening condition in the United Kingdom. The patient contracted a flesh-eating bacteria after being scratched by her cat. 

Shirley Hair, 65, said her Siamese cat named Chan left her with cuts on her right arm when she tried to cuddle her pet in April. The grandmother of five first ignored the wound, which later progressed to swelling.

“The scratch was quite deep, but I didn’t think much of it until I started to get flu-like symptoms and totally lost my appetite,” she told South West News Service. “A doctor came out to see me and prescribed antibiotics, but after a few days I was feeling worse than ever.”

Hair’s arm turned bright red and she was later rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Doctors initially diagnosed her with sepsis, septic shock, organ failure and pneumonia, Fox News reported Monday.

What surprised Hair was that she also had the flesh-eating bacteria Necrotizing fasciitis on her arm. The infection required an emergency surgery to remove the damaged tissue.

Doctors also put Hair into a medically-induced coma for recovery. The patient woke up after five days and underwent another surgery to completely remove the bacteria. 

Hair also took multiple skin grafts to cover the damaged area on her arm. She spent weeks at the hospital until doctors declared her free of the infection.

“I felt like I was going to die,” Hair said. “I couldn't believe this could all happen from a simple scratch.”

Her cat Chan has been re-homed. Since she left the hospital, Hair said she “couldn’t face Chan anymore” after she experienced a life-threatening condition. 

Flesh-eating bacteria enters the body through a break in the skin, such as cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites or puncture wounds, and can spread rapidly throughout the body. 

The symptoms of flesh-eating infection include black spots on the skin, blisters, oozing or pus, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea and nausea. If left untreated, the infection could lead to death due to shock and organ failure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one in three patients die from flesh-eating bacteria even after receiving treatments. Those who survive the infection are commonly left with severe scarring and lost limb. 

siamese cat A Siamese cat left a woman fighting for her life after she contracted a flesh-eating infection from a cat scratch. Pixabay