DEATH FROM FLESH-EATING BACTERIUM
A Princes Town mother wants to know how her son, Navin Bheesham-Singh, died from a rare flesh-eating bacterium, five days after a doctor diagnosed and treated him for a pinched nerve. An autopsy at the mortuary of the San Fernando General Hospital gave the cause of his death as septic shock necrotizing fasciitis of the right limb
According to the Centres for Disease Control, necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body’s soft tissue. Known as a flesh-eating infection, this rare disease can be caused by different types of bacteria. Navin Singh, of Gajdhar Lands, Princes Town, died on October 30, two days after his 30th birthday, and was cremated on November 2 at the Shore of Peace. He was the first of the four children of his parents, Bhagwantee and Andy Weekes.
He worked as a welder with a contractor at Petrotrin and had set a date to marry his girlfriend of five years, Janice Soogrim, on April 16 next year. Soogrim had already ordered and received her wedding dress. Bhagwantee Singh-Weekes yesterday went public with a plea for all doctors, including Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, to examine her child’s case and tell her what went wrong.
She said the bacteria not only destroyed the flesh, fat and muscles of her son’s leg but caused all of his organs to fail. She believes if he had been properly diagnosed when he first sought attention, he might have been alive today. She said the death of her first-born had caused her no end of grief and promised to leave no stone unturned until she got justice.
“Please, please look at it, Madam Prime Minister, anybody, and tell me why my child is dead today. Investigate, analyse and tell me, so I can get some closure,” Singh pleaded at a news conference at the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union headquarters, Paramount Building, San Fernando.
His father, Andy Weekes, said he wanted to know why the doctors did not carry out the proper procedure to examine and diagnose Navin. “Why, when he went, they told him he had a pinched nerve and based on that theory, gave him an injection with steroids? “You must have an MRI or X-ray to determine if you have a pinched nerve. You can’t just watch a person and diagnose him with a pinched nerve.
“Why, when he went back on Monday night to the hospital, they gave him another injection? Why did they not take a blood test?” the grieving father asked.
‘Pinched nerve misdiagnosed’
Navin’s parents said he had no existing medical condition before October 2, when he went to the Princes Town District Health Facility with a pain in his right knee. His mother said they thought he had contracted chikungunya, as she and two other members of the family had had the virus. His sister, Shanika Weekes, said because Singh was in so much pain, his parents took him to the health facility. As he was an adult, they were not allowed to go with him to see the doctor.
Weekes said he came back out a short while later and told his parents he had been given an injection and a prescription for steroids. She added over the weekend the pain intensified and on October 27 he could barely walk as his leg was swollen. He went back to the health facility and this time, Weekes added, he was so weak, he had to be put in a wheelchair and wheeled in.
His mother, who accompanied him again, interjected to say he came out after approximately five minutes with the doctor. “I asked him what happened and he told me he got another injection. He was wearing a short pants and I enquired what the doctor said about his leg. Navin told me the doctor did not examine him,” she said.
Weekes said by Wednesday morning, her brother’s condition had deteriorated further and they again took him back to Princes Town facility where once again he had to be put in a wheelchair, as he could not get out of the car on his own. When they got inside, his parents were told they had to wait as there were many patients ahead of him.
Bhagwantee said she called her sister, who had a friend working there, and that friend, taking one look at Singh, saw his eyes were yellow and rushed him in to see the doctor on duty. “At this point,” Weekes said, “the doctor called my mother and asked her why she was now bringing Navin to seek medical attention. My mother told him he was here twice before. “The doctor turned to my mother and told her, ‘Your son is dying’.”
She said her brother was transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital where he was first taken to the resuscitation room and then to the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors explained that the infection, which had become poisonous, had spread throughout his body and all his organs were failing. They said it was a rare case and explored possible causes with the family.
She said the doctors also informed the family they had to take Navin into the operating theatre to relieve some of the stress on his leg and that amputation was also an option. He died on October 30.
About the bacterium
Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body’s soft tissue. Known as a flesh-eating infection, this rare disease can be caused by different types of bacteria. It happens when bacteria enter the body through breaks in the skin such as a cut, scrape, burn, insect bite or puncture wound. Most people who develop this condition may have diabetes, kidney disease, cancer or other chronic health conditions that weaken the body’s immune system.
• Pain or soreness, similar to that of a “pulled muscle”.
• Warm skin with red or purplish areas of swelling.
• Ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin.
• Fever, chills, fatigue and vomiting.
Treatment usually includes an antibiotic injection to a vein but because the bacterial toxins can destroy soft tissue and reduce blood flow, rapid surgical removal of dead tissue may also be required. Once a person’s immune system is strong and they practise good hygiene and proper wound care, the chances of getting necrotizing fasciitis are extremely low. Source: Centres for Disease Control
Extracted From: Trinidad Guardian Newspaper