He has handled greater than a thousand sufferers, each in Australia and abroad, for the illness. Many of these in Australia are older, however others are younger academics, laborers and even kids.
He measures their lesions gently with a ruler, marking them to trace their development. Though 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 “quite an extraordinary organism, really,” 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 docs might give a prognosis. They have since carried out surgical procedures to take away the necrotic, concrete-like tissue. “Unless you get rid of that dead flesh, the skin will never heal,” mentioned Dr. Adrian Murrie, a doctor on the clinic who has been treating Mr. Courtney.
Other sufferers with much less extreme instances generally decline remedy, as an alternative choosing pure cures like making use of warmth and clay. Though the physique can often combat off smaller ulcers, such remedies can pose an actual hazard in severe instances, Dr. O’Brien mentioned.
In most instances, the course of remedy is antibiotics. Previously, the illness was largely handled with surgical procedure, however with higher drugs, the prognosis has vastly improved lately. “It was thought the antibiotics didn’t work,” Dr. O’Brien mentioned. “Because it actually gets worse before it gets better.”
Still, for now, prevention is near inconceivable.
“We don’t know how to stop it,” he mentioned. But if the reply is to be discovered wherever, he mentioned, it’s in Australia.
For Mr. Courtney, his battle with the illness is much from over. Doctors anticipate his remedy to final at the least one other six months.