How a paper cut almost killed: Mother, 49, reveals her organs began to shut due ...

A mother came close to death after catching a flesh-eating bug through a paper cut on her hand.

Heather Harbottle, 49, from Hawaii, drove to hospital in December 2017 after a rough two nights with progressing hand pain and a fever.

The self-employed independent paparazzi consultant never expected a small wound on her left hand to be the cause of necrotising fasciitis, an infection which kills the skin, muscle and soft tissue. 

It was rapidly spreading through her hand, eating away at the tendons, and travelling up to the armpit and heart. 

The vicious bug had led to life-threatening sepsis, which is when the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body. It caused her kidneys to fail.

Doctors administered tonnes of antibiotics while cutting away at the rotting flesh every three days.

Ms Harbottle nearly-missed amputation of her arm, and when she was well enough, doctors were able to a skin graft by taking tissue from Ms Harbottle's thigh.

After 65 days in hospital, Ms Harbottle was able to return to her six-year-old daughter, AnnJolie. She is still regaining movement in her hand.

Heather Harbottle, 49, came close to death after catching a flesh-eating bug through a paper on her hand. Pictured, the tissue on her hand eaten by the bacteria

Heather Harbottle, 49, came close to death after catching a flesh-eating bug through a paper on her hand. Pictured, the tissue on her hand eaten by the bacteria

The vicious bug had led to life-threatening sepsis, which is when the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body. It caused Ms Harbottle's kidneys to fail

The vicious bug had led to life-threatening sepsis, which is when the immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the body. It caused Ms Harbottle's kidneys to fail

Ms Harbottle nearly-missed amputation of her arm, and when she was well enough, doctors were able to a skin graft by taking tissue from Ms Harbottle's thigh

Ms Harbottle nearly-missed amputation of her arm, and when she was well enough, doctors were able to a skin graft by taking tissue from Ms Harbottle's thigh

Ms Harbottle believes she cut her hand on a cardboard box while moving into her new house. 

She said: 'On December 7, 2017, I woke after a rough night with progressing hand pain. My pinky was swollen and it was starting to spread.

'I was thinking it was a sprain or dislocation of my pinky. But between my pinky and ring finger was a cut so, I thought in the move I must have hit it or something.

'I stayed home to rest while everyone else made the four-hour round trip for another load during the move. The cut on my finger was already showing an infection and my hand was now beginning to swell.

'That night I had started having a fever and any movement of my arm or body was excruciating. I was so weak.  

'So, on Friday at around 5am we drove the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Hilo Medical Centre.'

Once at the hospital, doctors discovered Ms Harbottle had necrotising fasciitis, more commonly known as 'flesh-eating disease'.

Mrs Harbottle drove to hospital in December 2017 after a rough two nights with progressing hand pain and a fever. She is pictured recently

Mrs Harbottle drove to hospital in December 2017 after a rough two nights with progressing hand pain and a fever. She is pictured recently 

Once at the hospital, doctors discovered Ms Harbottle had necrotising fasciitis, more commonly known as 'flesh-eating disease'

Once at the hospital, doctors discovered Ms Harbottle had necrotising fasciitis, more commonly known as 'flesh-eating disease'

The infection, caused by Streptococcus bacteria, was rapidly spreading through Mrs Harbottle's hand, eating away at the tendons

The infection, caused by Streptococcus bacteria, was rapidly spreading through Mrs Harbottle's hand, eating away at the tendons

It is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. 'Necrotising' refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.

The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area. 

Ms Harbottle was told Streptococcus bacteria had entered her body. There are around 1,000 cases in the UK each year that are caused by group A Streptococcus, according to The Lee Spark NF Foundation.

In the US, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say between 700 and 1,200 cases occur each year. 

Necrotising fasciitis gets rapidly worse, and up to 40 per cent of people will die, even with treatment, according to the NHS.

Survivors are often left with long-term disability as a result of amputation or the removal of a lot of infected tissue.

Ms Harbottle said: 'After being diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis, doctors were very extremely hesitant to touch it. The first step was to get every antibiotic on board and hope for results.

'I had just come close to death and was now facing possible amputation if the infection was too strong. The bacteria had already eaten through to my tendons and has now reached my armpit.'

The infection travelled to Mrs Harbottle's armpit

The infection travelled to Mrs Harbottle's armpit

In January 2018, Ms Harbottle had a groin flap procedure, where they take a chunk of healthy tissue to replace the tissue lost on the hand. It was attached to her groin for a while so it could receive blood flow (pictured)

In January 2018, Ms Harbottle had a groin flap procedure, where they take a chunk of healthy tissue to replace the tissue lost on the hand. It was attached to her groin for a while so it could receive blood flow (pictured)

After 65 days in hospital, Ms Harbottle was able to return to her six-year-old daughter, AnnJolie. She is still regaining movement in her hand

After 65 days in hospital, Ms Harbottle was able to return to her six-year-old daughter, AnnJolie. She is still regaining movement in her hand

The infection led to life-threatening sepsis, an over reaction of the immune system leading to rapid deterioration in health. 

WHAT IS NECROTISING FASCIITIS?

Necrotising fasciitis is most commonly caused by an infection with group A Streptococcus, but can be caused by several different types of bacteria.

They infect flat layers of a membrane known as the fascia, which are connective bands of tissue that surround muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels.  The infection also damages the tissues next to the fascia. 

Sometimes toxins made by these bacteria destroy the tissue they infect, causing it to

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