‘Lucky to be alive’ after insect bite

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A Maresfield woman survived a battle with a severe infection after being bitten by a bug in her garden.

On March 10 Sharon Vos, 53, was taken to hospital in Tunbridge Wells by ambulance after a bite from an unknown insect two days earlier.

She had suffered gastric problems, a high temperature, shaking and a serious rash and added: “I was so lucky the infection was diagnosed quickly or I would have died.”

She was admitted to the intensive care unit where she was found to have severe sepsis and multiple organ failure. Sharon spent three weeks in intensive care and was put into an induced coma for two weeks. She had a tracheostomy and said: “When I woke up I couldn’t move. My limbs were like lead - it was like I was tied to the bed. The hospital was incredible; nurses and my family kept a diary not expecting me to recover.”

ICU staff said they had never seen anyone with such a high temperature (nearly 50 degrees) survive. Her blood pressure dropped to 60/30, she shivered and shook, her lungs collapsed causing dizziness and breathing problems, her skin blistered, kidneys bled, fluid surrounded her brain and she even lost a small piece of her tongue.

Out of intensive care, she spent two weeks on a medical ward but was only able to walk a short distance with a frame after six weeks in hospital. She now walks with crutches but said: “It’s been a long, slow road but I’m lucky to have survived.”

Whilst ill, Sharon lost half her hair which has now started to regrow. She has nerve damage in her hands and feet. She cannot fully close her hands and this nerve damage may be permanent. It may take another year for her to recover fully. She is being referred to a rheumatologist for further examination. She said “I shed so many tears but at least knew I had someone to care for me when I got home unlike some others who could easily give up.”

The UK Sepsis Trust is working with writer Amanda Prowse to raise awareness. Her book, published shortly, concerns a family whose child dies of sepsis. Proceeds will go to the charity. Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its tissues and organs. It leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if not recognised and treated promptly. It can start anywhere in the body following chest or water infections, burst ulcers or simple skin injuries like cuts or bites.

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