Four-year-old Rhys Pritchard was taken by his mother Keisha to the hospital after he fell over in their garden and bumped his head.
Tiny Cut Above The Eye
The child was sent home after doctors stitched the tiny cut above his eye. A few hours later though, Ryhs began to vomit and his eye became so swollen he could not open it.
When he was brought back to the hospital, he was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating disease.
"The most common way of getting necrotizing fasciitis is when the bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin. This can include cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, or puncture wounds," said the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms Of Infection
The bacterial infection releases dangerous toxins that can lead to death of soft tissues. The infection is marked by early flu-like symptoms, as well as vomiting and swelling of affected areas before spreading through the body, which can cause dizziness and confusion. The infection can get worse and lead to potentially deadly problems such as blood poisoning and organ failure.
The boy had to be placed in isolation, where anyone who visits him had to wear contamination suits. Over the next two days, the child's eyes blistered and were filled with pus. Doctors drained the fluid and removed the infected tissue and skin from the eyelids.
"Antibiotics may not reach all of the infected and dying areas if toxins destroy soft tissue and reduce blood flow," the CDC said. "This surgery is often critical to stop the infection and must happen quickly."
After spending 11 days at University Hospital Wales in Cardiff, he was finally allowed to return home. He still needs to undergo corrective operations though since he is not yet able to fully close his right eye 10 months after contracting the flesh-eating bacteria.
The infection can be fatal if not treated early but Ryhs was lucky to have recovered. The others who faced a similar ordeal were not as fortunate. In 2014, a teenager died due to infection of a rare strain of flesh-eating bacteria just days after having his wisdom tooth removed. In another case, a 31-year-old man from Texas died after contracting flesh-eating bacterial infection when he went swimming in the sea just days after getting a tattoo.
"The doctors told us if the infection hadn't been stopped that day it would have been too late," Keisha said. "It was so overwhelming to hear that Rhys could have been left blind or killed by this bug."