66 year-old Mr Chew, a gardener, has had to have his 2 legs and left hand amputated after he caught the rare but lethal Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria. The bacteria infection turned his limbs black and nearly killed him if doctors had not acted in time to remove his infected limbs.
In yet another devastating blow for Mr Chew, who now relies primarily on his maid for everyday activities, he has been told by doctors that he would lose the fingertips of his right hand, which have turned black.
Mr Chew’s symptoms began 2 months before the more recent case of technician Tan Whee Boon, who lost all his limbs last month when they turned gangrenous due to medical complications from treating GBS and 2 other types of bacteria. The 50 year-old Mr Tan had eaten raw fish or yusheng just before his limbs turned black. The Ministry of Health said there was a possible link between raw fish consumption and GBS cases.
Mr Chew said that he has been hospitalised since mid-June when he suddenly experienced great pain in his stomach, a bout of vomiting and weakness in the limbs.
He was at home and had just eaten a packet of rice, which he had bought. 6 hours later, he was lying unconscious in intensive care.
The following day, doctors amputated his left leg, followed by his right 2 days later. Earlier this month, doctors removed his left hand too.
However, the most frightening difference between Mr Chew and Mr Tan’s case is that Mr Chew had not eaten raw fish before he suffered the same symptoms.
A family clinic doctor, Mark Low, told the media that Mr Chew could also have been infected by GBS, as the bacteria is found not only in raw fish but practically anywhere.
So far it has not been determined why the bacteria infection has been rampant, said Dr Low, adding that he does not rule out mutation.
GBS could block blood flow and cause limbs to turn black, even in people who are not in the more vulnerable group, which includes diabetic patients and smokers, said the doctor.