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Flesh-Eating Superbug Exposes Australian To Fight For Life And Puts Many Nearby Members At Risk

Update Date: Nov 03, 2015 11:49 AM EST
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Paul Campbell is a 56-year-old grandfather from Perth, Australia. Suddenly, in his 56th year, he is fighting a deadly flesh-eating superbug which doctors explain will need at least 20 operations and a potential one-year-long stay in the hospital for treatment.

A worrying list of 20 surgeries in order to carry out skin grafts to heal the damage by the bug, and the possibility of amputations, including one of his thumbs, is the frightening prospect that Campbell faces.

He had been visiting his mother in Hervey Bay three weeks ago when suddenly, he fell ill.

"He was doing gardening and he said he felt like he had sunstroke," Campbell's daughter Belinda Howes said, according to The Daily Mail. "On Tuesday he was gardening - by Thursday he had had three operations."

On his thigh and stomach the bug had caused huge holes, where doctors operated and removed infected tissue.

"It's called necrotising faciitis and it's a superbug, it's a flesh-eating bacteria," Howes said. "To me it's like a shark has taken a chunk out of him."

The flesh-eating superbug's official name is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is responsible for the infections in humans, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Being highly resistant to antibiotics such as the penicillins and cephalosporins, and due to the nature of the injuries as well as the weak immune systems, patients with MRSA face deadly infection.

Campbell's health as well as his family is at risk. The Telethon Kids Institute director Johnathan Carapetis and Dr. Ronan Murray have both said that MSRA should be made "a notifiable disease". Secondly, there is a "strong case" to give preventative antibiotics to other members in the family who are near him, according to The West Australian.

"Although it's rare, it has significant implications for the household contacts," Murray said. "It may be that antibiotics should be offered to people ... to reduce the risk."

Every year, about 25 percent of the 400 people who get the bug in Australia die from infection.

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