‘It's eating him alive’: Deadly disease claims man’s legs, leaves him fighting for life

‘It's eating him alive’: Deadly disease claims man’s legs, leaves him fighting for life
A Filipino man has had both of his legs amputated and may lose his arms after being infected with a flesh-eating disease that his family believe was caused by a spider bite.

Terry Pareja fell sick while visiting relatives in Birchip in the state of Victoria, Australia. His family say he was bitten by a white-tailed spider on March 31 and his foot started to swell.

He delayed seeking medical help, however, because there was no doctor available in the small town. By Monday the flesh-eating bacteria had set in and was wreaking havoc on his system. When he arrived in hospital his leg was amputated immediately.

According to a Gofundme campaign, which appears to have been set up by Pareja's daughter, Jeffmarey, the 65 year old’s kidneys have stopped functioning. "It's eating him alive, literally," she told the BBC. "He needs to stay in hospital for about 12 to 18 months.”

In an update on the Gofundme page Jeffmarey revealed that her father was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and suggested that Pareja senior may also lose both of his arms.

A rapidly progressive inflammatory infection, necrotizing fasciitis is caused by a bacterium called Group A streptococcus. Group A Streptococcus infections are very common and are responsible for all types of infections from strep throat to toxic shock syndrome and the aforementioned necrotizing fasciitis.

In extreme cases it attacks the flesh and can be lethal if it gets into organs such as the heart or lungs.

READ MORE: Strep solution? Vaccine may be in the works for flesh-eating bacteria

The Pareja family say he picked up the bug when the spider bit him, however, clinical toxicologist Dr Geoff Isbister noted that there has never been a definite case where someone picked up the infection from a spider bite.

The Gofundme campaign to raise money for Pareja’s medical bills has raised more than than $22,000.