Health

Strep Throat Leads Michigan Man To Lose Hands And Feet

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A case of strep throat has ended with amputation of both hands and feet for a father of three in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Kevin Breen, 44, lost his left hand, multiple fingers on the right, and both of his feet shortly after contracting strep. A few days after Christmas, he began feeling ill, with a sharp pain in the stomach landing him in the emergency room and leading to a diagnosis of acute mild pancreatitis.

Finding The Strep Infection

Exploratory surgery saw 1.5 liters of pus in Breen’s stomach, yet his blood was infection-free. His organs began to shut down, his blood supply leaving his extremities and rushing to save those organs.

His hands and feet were left to die, and he entered terrible septic shock.

“He was one of the sickest patients that we’ve ever taken care of,” said acute care surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Steensma of Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, adding they were extremely worried when Breen became quite tenuous.

Doctors were baffled until a rash manifested on his chest and made them suspect a strep infection. His son had also been recently diagnosed with strep.

Tests came up positive, and the patient was treated with penicillin.

Extremely Rare Case

According to Steensma, it is extremely rare for strep bacteria to move from the throat to the stomach. While already confirmed 32 times, it always took place in women, with Breen as only the second male documented to be in the situation.

More than a million cases of strep are diagnosed in the country each year, but most patients bounce back without serious problems, the surgeon said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist in Breen’s hospital and family expenses, as he is out of work, and the family is depending on his wife’s earnings as a teacher.

Strep Throat In Focus

Strep throat is a common kind of sore throat among children, and it is not as common in adults, the CDC noted. A quick test by doctors can determine if it is a case of strep throat and decide if there’s a need for antibiotics.

Sore throat is typically caused by viruses, bacteria, allergens, and environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and chronic postnasal drip. Some types of the infection, including strep throat, may need to be treated.



The condition is also known as group A strep given that it is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, which can live on one’s throat and nose without leading to sickness. Common symptoms apart from sore throat include red and swollen tonsils, tiny red sports on the roof of the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck.

Some patients may have stomach pain, headache, nausea, and vomiting, as well as a rash known as scarlet fever.

Once tests come up positive, a doctor may recommend antibiotic treatment to shorten the length of time of illness, reduce the symptoms, and help prevent infection spread in others. It could also prevent serious complications that may include tonsil and sinus infections and a rare inflammatory sickness known as acute rheumatic fever.

Experts recommend frequent hand washing and avoiding utensil sharing. It is also helpful for anyone with a sore throat to wash hands more often and cover one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing.

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