Texas Man Lost His Limbs After Being Bit by a Flea

Michael Kohlhof, a 35-year-old man from Texas began suffering from flu-like symptoms which quickly developed into something far worse than just the flu.

After being admitted into San Antonio’s emergency room and going into septic shock, doctors had no choice but to amputate his hands up to his forearms and parts of both feet due to dry gangrene caused by sepsis – an effect of typhus.

Flea-borne typhus is an infectious disease caused by bacteria transmitted through fleas, lice and chiggers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, nausea, cough and stomach pain as well as a rash that appears around day five after contracting it.

It is most common in southern California, Hawaii and Texas with 591 cases reported in 2019 – though this number may be higher since many people do not seek treatment or diagnosis for milder cases of typhus.

When Michael first started showing signs of illness he thought he had merely contracted the flu however, it was later revealed that he had contracted flea-borne typhus after being exposed at some point prior to becoming ill.

Due to its rarity in the United States there are often delays in testing for it so proper diagnosis can take days if not weeks before treatment can begin which leads to serious consequences such as what happened here with Michael’s case resulting in severe tissue damage due to lack of blood flow leading him having several amputations from his toes up his forearms.

Additionally three people have died due to flea-borne typhus this year alone according to CDC reports making this situation even more dire than initially thought.

Dr Jason Bowling who specializes in infectious diseases at UTHealth San Antonio was not involved with Michael’s case but did comment on how difficult it is sometimes to spot signs of typhus due its similarity with other viral infections as well as some people not developing rashes.

Therefore it is important for anyone who has been exposed animals or fleas bites then develop fever or chills should seek medical attention immediately and mention their exposure when doing so.

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