Flesh eating: When paper cuts turn deadly
THE story of a young Queenslander's brush with death after contracting a gruesome flesh-eating bug from a paper cut shocked the country this week but - but such cases are not as rare as you might expect.
Ryan Taylor, 26, developed necrotising fasciitis after sustaining the seemingly insignificant injury at his office on July 25.
The Southport marketing manager knew something was very wrong when his hand swelled up the next day and took himself straight to hospital.
"At first they had no idea what they were treating," Mr Taylor told The Gold Coast Bulletin on Tuesday.
"It had spread from my finger to my elbow in 12 hours. They rushed me into theatre straight away and told me there was a possibility they would have to amputate my arm if it kept spreading, or there could even be loss of life."
Doctors had to continually slice his forearm and vacuum out the dead flesh, with Mr Taylor undergoing 10 surgeries in less than a month.
Six weeks on he is still battling the infection at Gold Coast Hospital - the eighth case of necrotising faciitis recorded by Gold Coast Health between July 2017 and July 2018.
The disease has a high death rate - up to 40 per cent - but is not as common as sepsis, which kills millions worldwide every year.
Like necrotising faciitis, sepsis can and has been contracted through the tiniest breaks in the skin, such as scratches and, you guessed it, paper cuts.
In September 2016, 46-year-old Michael Berger was given a 50 per cent chance of survival after his paper cut became infected.
The New Jersey native developed sepsis, a toxic response to an infection that can lead to rapid organ failure.
It must be caught quickly and be treated with antibiotics and IV fluids but can be difficult to diagnose and claims the lives of more than 250,000 Americans each year.
Mr Berger was placed in a medically-induced coma at the Kennedy Hospital and placed on the national Sepsis Program, which saved his life.
In February this year, doctors were forced to partially amputate all four of Marguerite Henderson's limbs after she developed sepsis from a tiny cut.
The 54-year-old British grandmother spent three weeks in a medically induced coma as specialists fought to save her life.
"She noticed she had a tiny cut on her index finger on her right hand," her daughter Kim Donnachie told The Sun.
"It was that minuscule, she doesn't even remember how she got it. It was just the size of a paper cut."
Ms Henderson's family is currently crowd-funding to pay for her to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.