'I can tackle anything': Ontario girl survives flesh-eating disease that took 2 limbs
Published Friday, December 1, 2017 10:00PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, December 2, 2017 9:13AM EST
When 12-year-old Nupur Mate developed a headache, fever and severe pain nine months ago, she was initially diagnosed with the flu.
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By the time she got the proper diagnosis -- invasive group A streptococcus -- it was too late to save two of her limbs.
Nupur, who lives near Toronto, had a form of the bacterial infection called necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes called “flesh-eating disease.”
Surgeons at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital amputated one arm and one leg in order to save her life.
“I was on a ventilator, I remember that,” Nupur told CTV News. She said the rest of her time at the hospital was a blur.
Nupur has since been in rehabilitation at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, learning how to use a wheelchair with one hand, and slowly regaining her strength.
“I can still move my fingers around but they are not there,” she said of her missing hand. “My nerves feel like it is still there so it is kind of weird.”
Her mother, Sunita Mate, had no idea a simple infection could become so severe. She’s just happy her child survived.
“At least my child is with me,” she said.
The family is now focused only on Nupur’s recovery.
“It already happened, you can’t go back in time, so I guess move on,” Nupur said.
“I can tackle anything,” she added. “I guess it's just life.”
Group A streptococcus commonly lives inside our mouths and on our skin, sometimes causing sore throats, coughs, fevers and chills. In rare cases where it “invades” certain parts of the body, it can kill.
The cases sometimes come in clusters, such as the outbreak in London, Ont., which has led to at least 132 cases, including nine deaths, since April 2016.
In the London outbreak, 15 per cent of cases turned into the flesh-eating form of the disease and another 15 per cent were labelled Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, a form of the disease that affects the blood and internal organs.
Dr. Hovhannisyan, Associate Medical Officer of Health at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said earlier this week that while about half of the cases involve injection drug users and homeless people, the other half of cases do not.
Meanwhile, the number of invasive infections appears to be rising in Canada, up from 2.81 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 4.03 reported cases per 100,000 in 2009, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. No one seems to know why.
Dr. Michael Silverman, Chief of Infectious Diseases at St. Joseph’s Health Care in London, Ont., says that invasive group A streptococcus comes in waves, “and some of those waves can be serious.”
Little can be done to prevent infections beyond washing one’s hands and covering coughs but Dr. Silverman says prompt diagnosis is paramount. “The longer it sits, the more difficult it is to treat,” he says.
Dr. Silverman says people who have a cut or scrape with pain that seems to be getting worse and moving up the leg or arm, with or without fever, should seek medical help.
With a report from CTV's medical affairs specialist Avis Favaro and Elizabeth St. Philip