When a Pet Dog Scratched His Owners Hand, The Minor Scratch Nearly Cost the Man His Life

One man has recently suffered from some shocking health problems that resulted in having to have his legs amputated. He also lost all the fingers on one of his hands, and had to have surgery on his face as well that disfigured him.

Thankfully he survived the ordeal, which all began when he got a tiny scratch from his pet dog.

Jaco Nel, a 50-year-old psychiatrist who worked with dementia patients, was playing with his dog, Harvey. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about playtime, except when he was finished he noticed that he had obtained a tiny scratch on his hand from the pup.

Thinking nothing of it, Nel washed his hands and went on with his life. He had forgotten all about the scratch.

About two weeks later, he began experiencing flu-like symptoms. He thought he had caught a bug. He felt so bad he had his appointments for the day cancelled, went home and crawled into bed. As the hours ticked by, he got worse and worse.

“I started to feel hot and cold. I was shivering yet I could not get warm. My whole body was aching. I thought it was the flu so I went home to bed. I texted my partner and said I had the flu and was going to bed."

Things only got worse by morning.

“The next day I was very ill and confused. I wasn’t able to ring work and that’s when my secretary started to worry. I don’t even remember the phone ringing. When my partner Michael got home after work I couldn’t stand up, my hands didn’t work properly and I struggled to speak," Nel explains.

His partner immediately called an ambulance and Nel was rushed to the hospital. Paramedics found that red blotches had erupted all over Nel's skin.

Red blotches are a key sign of sepsis, otherwise known as 'blood poisoning'. Sepsis occurs when the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection, causing an inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation can cause organ damage, organ failure, and may be life-threatening.

If caught early, sepsis is treated with antibiotics. If it progresses to septic shock, things will rapidly spiral out of control. Small blood clots may develop in the extremities, cutting off circulation, resulting in the need for limbs to be amputated.

“I was lying there in hospital looking at my black, gangrenous legs and fingers. Looking down I knew I was going to lose everything. I could tell the tissue was dead," Nel recalls in an interview with Manchester Evening News. "Even though the doctors had played it down, I knew how severe it was.”

Nel spent four months in the hospital, and is lucky to be alive. In testing him, doctors found a bacteria that is commonly found in the mouths of dogs turn up in Nel's blood tests. That's when he remembered the little scratch. They believe that's what led to the sepsis.

The bout with sepsis resulted in the loss of all his digits on his right hand, one finger on his left hand and both legs. Due to gangrene on his face, he had to have reconstructive surgery as well.

Nel is learning to walk again with prosthetics, but he says his disfigured face is the most difficult thing to overcome because it makes him reluctant to go out. “The hardest part has been accepting that I am now disfigured and that there is nothing I can do about it.”

Source: Manchester Evening News
Photos: Cambridge News

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