A Texas man lost his hands and toes after contracting a severe case of typhus from a flea bite.
Michael Kohlhof, from Houston, was taken to hospital in June after developing flu-like symptoms.
But shortly after arriving, he went into septic shock and was transferred to an intensive care unit.
A Texas man lost his hands and parts of his feet after contracting an extreme case of typhus from a flea bite.
Michael Kohlhof, 35, was taken to a hospital in San Antonio on June 19 after developing flu-like symptoms, including an upset stomach and a fever, NBC News reported.
But hours later, Kohlhof’s condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was rushed into the intensive care unit while medical staff tried to figure out what was wrong with him.
By the next day, the handyman was on a ventilator, dialysis, and a cocktail of drugs including antibiotics, beta-blockers, and vasopressors in order to keep him alive while his organs were failing, a GoFundMe page set up by his family said.
“He almost died once or twice,” his brother Greg Kohlhof told KENS 5 News.
“They were worried about him being brain-dead,” he added.
Kohlhof emerged from sedation on July 1, with doctors explaining that the cause of his condition was typhus, an infection spread by lice, fleas, or mites.
“He was the victim of a severe and traumatic bite from one single flea — with unimaginable consequences,” the GoFundMe page said.
Kohlhof’s family wrote that the vasopressors that had helped to keep him alive had “complicated the outlook of his extremities,” and that he had developed dry gangrene.
Dry gangrene occurs when the blood supply to tissue is cut off and the area becomes dry, shrinks, and turns black, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
On July 10, surgeons amputated both of Kohlhof’s hands “up to his forearms.” He also lost his toes and parts of his feet. The family said they are still unsure how much of his feet can be saved.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says typhus is found in tropical and subtropical climates and in the US can occur in places such as southern California, Hawaii, and Texas.
The CDC added that if left untreated, typhus infection can lead to severe illness and damage to organs, including the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain.