Don’t worry, it’s just tennis elbow! Woman falls into coma and almost dies after doctors fail to spot flesh-eating bugNecrotising fasciitis is often referred to as the 'flesh-eating bug' as it destroys skin tissue as it spreadsThe rare infection kills three quarters of its victims while 20 per cent need limb amputation
The chances of Kate White contracting the killer bacteria are the same as being struck by lightning – 10,000 to one

A young mother is lucky to be alive after the sore arm doctors diagnosed as tennis elbow was in fact a deadly flesh eating bug.

Kate White, 32, thought she'd suffered a bad reaction to an insect bite after she spotted a tiny pus-filled boil on her left elbow.

But when it refused to heal she went to the A&E department at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham and was diagnosed as having tennis elbow.

Lucky to be alive: Kate White, 32, was left in a coma after contracting the killer condition necrotising fasciitis

Lucky to be alive: Kate White, 32, was left in a coma after contracting the killer condition necrotising fasciitis

The mother-of-one, who had just
returned from Tobago in the Caribbean, was discharged from hospital
after medics put her arm in a sling and told her to take paracetamol.

within 48 hours Kate was in a coma on life support after contracting
the killer condition, necrotising fasciitis, a bacterial infection that
destroys skin and the fat and the tissue covering the muscles.

compared the chances of Kate contracting the rare bug as the same as
being hit by lightning in her lifetime – 10,000 to one.

bug, which kills three quarters of its victims, had ravaged Kate's arm
and doctors were forced to spend four days cutting away at her flesh to
stop it spreading elsewhere.

But after the emergency treatment Kate has made an incredible recovery.

Kate has now undergone a series of skin graphs with skin has been taken from her left leg to fill in the missing flesh from her arm

Kate has now undergone a series of skin graphs with skin has been taken from her left leg to fill in the missing flesh from her arm

Kate, from Birmingham, said: 'The
doctors told me they had never seen anyone as ill as me who had
survived. They said I was the sickest person in the hospital. I'm lucky to be alive.'

a full time mother to ten-year-old Aliyah, told how she started
hallucinating soon after being discharged from the hospital.

She said: 'I'd been taking paracetamol and co-codamol but nothing touched the pain.

'I was delirious and felt really sleepy so my mother called an ambulance.

'When the paramedics arrived, they said my blood pressure was so low I was going to slip into a coma.

'My heart rate was double what it should be and they said I was going to have a cardiac arrest.

'When I got to hospital, they were sticking needles in my neck, my feet, all over.

'They couldn't get a line in because my veins kept collapsing. I was terrified.'

was then moved to a high dependency unit where she was put in an
induced coma on life support while doctors tried to work out her mystery

She said: 'I'd just come back from Tobago so they thought it might be malaria but the symptoms weren't right.”

Doctors discovered she had necrotising fasciitis, often referred to as the 'flesh-eating bug' because the bacteria spreads through the soft tissue, releasing toxins that destroy the tissues as it spreads.

She was in a coma for a week, while surgeons cut away the infection, before she was well enough to be woken up.

Kate was then transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for extensive skin grafts where skin from her left leg was used to 'fill in' the missing flesh on her arm.

Kate, who has needed intense physiotherapy to regain movement in her arm, said: 'I am self conscious about my scars. I don't like wearing short skirts and I won't go out unless I'm wearing a long sleeved top.

'There have been times when I cried but I don't sit there crying every night. I've learnt to adapt. I just get on with it.

'I've got my arm and I'm still here. The doctors said it's like being struck by lightning. The chances of getting a flesh eating bug are that slim.

'It's been a real life lesson. You never know what's around the corner. I've learnt to appreciate things.'

Dr Neil Jenkins, consultant in infection and tropical diseases at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, said: 'Successful treatment relies on immediate recognition of the diagnosis and emergency surgery to remove all infected soft tissue.

'It is true to say that without the 'proper' surgery Kate would have inevitably died.

'At Heartlands Hospital, the infectious diseases clinicians, emergency surgeons and the critical care teams worked together and fortunately Kate survived and her arm was saved.

'We are all delighted that Kate has now successfully recovered.'


Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection that destroys the skin and tissue covering muscle.

It is pronounced: 'neck-row-tise-ing fas-e-i-tis'.

Sufferers contract the condition when the bacteria enters the body through an opening such as a cut, graze, or even a pin prick.

The symptoms within 24 hours include pain in the area or limb where the bacteria first entered the body, as well as diarrhea, nausea, fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness, and intense first.

Within the next three days, the infected area will swell and blisters fill with blackish fluid may appear.

After five days, the condition becomes critical as victims' blood pressure drops severely and the body begins to go into toxic shock.

More than 70 per cent of all infected victims die from the infection and a further 20 per cent of survivors need to have a limb amputated to stop the spread of the bacteria to the rest of the body.

But necrotising faciitis is still very rare with only 500 to 15000 cases reported each year.