A British student nearly died from a flesh-eating bug after a single mosquito bite while on holiday in Cambodia.
Donna Cox, 22, spent five weeks in hospital after contracting necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection that attacks the body’s soft tissue.
Doctors told her they could be forced to amputate her leg after she developed sepsis and her body began to shut down.
Donna, from Rochdale, had set off in September for the trip of a lifetime around South East Asia to celebrate the end of her master’s degree. She had reached Cambodia when she noticed a painful lump on her right leg.
“There was a lump around the bite on my shin,” she told the Manchester Evening News. “It just didn’t seem right.
“I’d been bitten loads when I was over there. The mosquitoes seemed to love me. But the redness and the pain around this one bite started to spread up and down my leg.”
Before leaving the UK, Donna had had all the vaccinations required for her trip.
She bought some antibiotic cream for the bite, but the pain in her right leg soon became too much for her to put any weight on it.
“I remember saying to some of the girls in the room, ‘Guys, I’m not being dramatic but I think I’m going to die or lose my leg’,” she said. “I was only joking but it almost ended up coming true.”
Donna decided to book a flight home, and after an x-ray at Rochdale Infirmary A&E was told she had a “collection” beneath her skin. She was rushed to Royal Oldham Hospital to be treated by a specialist team, but soon developed sepsis and began falling unconscious. Donna had to sign a form giving doctors permission to remove her leg should her condition continue to decline. Her leg was saved only after three operations and a fourth procedure to ease swelling.
“The bone in my leg had softened and the necrotising fasciitis was eating my leg,” she said. “It was only because I was young and strong that I survived.”
Donna lost the feelings in the lower part of her leg, and is now having to learn to walk again, but in December was able to walk across the stage at her graduation from Edge Hill University.
“It’s had such a dramatic impact on my life,” she said.
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