Holiday infection mutates into flesh-eating bug attacking man's genitals

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A 47-year-old man was left fighting for his life in a foreign country after contracting a rare "flesh-eating bug" following minor surgery to treat a bacterial infection.

Colin Graw from the UK was visiting Costa Rica for a business opportunity when he was admitted to the hospital after falling ill.

Doctors treated him for necrotising fasciitis, a rare but serious bacterial infection that targets the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs, but the infection mutated into something far worse.

Mr Graw's infection quickly led to sepsis and also Fournier’s Gangrene, a type of necrotising fasciitis that affects the scrotum and penis.

Colin Graw on beach in Costa Rica left, and right, in hospital.
Colin Graw fell ill and ended up in hospital before getting Fournier’s Gangrene. Source: GoFundMe/Lancs Live

According to his sister Tanja Willis, Mr Graw only had "a 30 per cent chance of survival," but luckily her brother pulled through.

The 47-year-old, who was supposed to return to the UK in January this year, underwent extensive surgery to remove the infected tissue.

Doctors were forced to remove large areas of infected skin from his genital area, Metro reported, which left him in "extreme pain."

Fight to get home: 'Too ill'

"It's been absolutely horrific for him, he is in exceptional amounts of pain, he can't sit properly," Ms Willis told LancsLive.

"I think he was exceptionally unlucky to contract bacteria like that. He was on the beach one day, and three days later he was in hospital fighting for his life, it happened so quickly."

Her brother is now on a course of antibiotics to ensure the bacterial infection doesn't reoccur, but the "infections are highly resistant to antibiotics".

Mr Graw remains in hospital in Costa Rica, too sick to fly home, she revealed.

"Until he is strong enough to return to the UK, he has to continue to receive treatment in Costa Rica," she wrote on GoFundMe page she set up for her brother.

So far, Mr Graw's medical expenses have cost him £80,000 (A$140,500), but the family suspect further treatment could set them back as much as £150,000 (A$263, 400).

UK man in Costa Rica hospital with flesh-eating bug.
The man had a 30 per cent chance of living. Source: GoFundMe

Fournier's Gangrene: A threat to men

While women can suffer from Fournier's Gangrene, it most commonly affects men, according to Medical News Today.

In fact, men are 10 times more likely than women to have it, and it's most often found in men between the ages of 50 and 60.

It usually happens when a skin wound allows bacteria, viruses, or fungi to get deeper into the body.

Symptoms of Fournier's Gangrene can include moderate pain or swelling in the genitals, which will worsen if not treated.

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