Filipino tourist loses legs to 'flesh-eating' disease in Australia

A Filipino man's vacation in the "Land Down Under" turned into a nightmare after he got infected with a "flesh-eating" disease, which necessitated the amputation of his legs

Sixty-five-year-old Terry Pareja was visiting his relatives in the Australian town of Birchip when he became sick and was later admitted to the hospital, BBC reported.

The relatives, however, believed that he might have been bitten by a white-tailed spider.

His legs began to swell and his right leg was amputated last Feb. 27 in Horsham, Victoria.

He was later airlifted to a hospital in Melbourne where his other leg was amputated.

"It's eating him alive, literally," Terry's daughter Jeffmarey Pareja told the news outlet.

"He needs to stay in [the] hospital for about 12 to 18 months."

Terry's brother-in-law Ray Ogleby pointed out a toxicology report that said a "possible spider bite" caused Terry's legs to swell.

"He (could) hardly walk on Saturday and on Sunday (his leg) started to turn black," Ogleby told local news programme 3AW.

"There's no doctor service in Birchip on Saturday and Sunday, so he waited until Monday."

Pareja's family thought that Terry might have been bitten by a white-tailed spider, but doctors doubted the family's claims when they diagnosed Terry's affliction as necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial skin infection commonly caused by Group A Streptococcus (A strep) and which can result in loss of limbs and multiple organ failures.

Terry's sister Raquel Ogleby feared that if the doctors could not treat his ailment the soonest, Terry could lose his arms to flesh-eating bacteria, too.

"I am not sure how well his arms are doing," she told Victoria Harbor Times.

"That is what I am scared about because they didn't look too good last time."

To cover Terry's inflating hospital bills, Jeffmarey opened a GoFundMe page last month.

As of Thursday donations have totaled US$35,000 (S$49,049).