He has handled greater than a thousand sufferers, each in Australia and abroad, for the illness. A lot of these in Australia are older, however others are younger lecturers, laborers and even youngsters.
He measures their lesions gently with a ruler, marking them to trace their development. Although they seem like the stuff of nightmares — some have ulcers that eat all the way in which 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 “fairly a unprecedented organism, actually,” 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’ve since carried out surgical procedures to take away the necrotic, concrete-like tissue. “Except you eliminate that useless flesh, the pores and skin won’t ever heal,” mentioned Dr. Adrian Murrie, a doctor on the clinic who has been treating Mr. Courtney.
Different sufferers with much less extreme circumstances typically decline therapy, as an alternative choosing pure cures like making use of warmth and clay. Although the physique can often combat off smaller ulcers, such remedies can pose an actual hazard in severe circumstances, Dr. O’Brien mentioned.
Normally, the course of therapy is antibiotics. Beforehand, 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. “As a result of it truly will get worse earlier than it will get higher.”
Nonetheless, for now, prevention is near unimaginable.
“We don’t know easy methods to cease it,” he mentioned. But when 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. Medical doctors count on his therapy to final at the least one other six months.