A WOMAN suffered life-threatening injuries after a cat scratch left her battling a flesh-eating bug and organ failure.
Shirley Hair’s arm puffed up and her skin turned black – indicating a potentially fatal infection –days after being scratched by her Siamese cat.
The 65-year-old told the Daily Star that her grumpy pedigree cat, Chan – bought for £400 from a breeder – was “always spiteful” towards her, and “would lash out whenever possible”.
Over time, the moggie increasingly exhibited “more aggressive” behaviour, “often leaving us with bites and scratches”.
While the retired carer was busy gardening at her Winterbourne home in Bristol, Chan scratched Shirley’s hand when she tried to pick him up for a cuddle.
Her knuckle then became inflamed and turned bright red.
Shirley quickly became more poorly, experiencing dizziness, losing her appetite and suffering sore muscles.
Then, after her arm swelled up and the skin turned black, Shirley was admitted to hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis, septic shock, organ failure, pneumonia and necrotising fasciitis.
This is a flesh-eating disease which kills off parts of the body’s soft tissue, and can spread rapidly.
Surgeons cut out infected tissue before putting her in a medically-induced coma to give her body a chance to heal, over five days.
Her family were warned to “expect the worst” as she also suffered two heart attacks after the operation.
The infection was so severe that Shirley had to stay in intensive care for two months, undergoing further operations and skin grafts, using skin from the top of her leg.
Now that she’s safely home, and her hand is “almost is good as it was”, Shirley told the Star that she’s decided to re-home Chan.
She said: “After coming out of the coma I was severely paranoid due to the combination of infection and medication.
“After all that happened, I decided I really couldn’t face Chan the cat anymore, so my daughter Zoe volunteered to have him.
“I can’t thank my family and the NHS enough for getting me back to almost full health.”
What is sepsis?
Sepsis is the primary cause of death from infection around the world, claiming around 40,000 lives in the UK each year.
The condition is always triggered by an infection and is life-threatening.
Unfortunately it can be hard to spot, according to the NHS.
Sepsis happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs.
It can lead to organ failure and septic shock, which can prove fatal.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can all trigger sepsis – though the most dangerous culprit is bacteria.
- loss of appetite
- fever and chills
- difficult or rapid breathing
- rapid heart rate
- low blood pressure
- low urine output
If a person is suffering these symptoms and they are thought to have suffered an infection – pneumonia, abdominal infection, urinary infection, or a wound – sepsis is a likely cause.
If you suspect you or a loved one are suffering sepsis it must be treated as a medical emergency and dial 999.
The longer it takes to receive medical care the more likely it is a patient will die.