A Perth woman has had all five toes on her foot amputated after contracting a bone-eating infection from a Thai fish spa.

Victoria Curthoys previously had half of one toe cut off after catching an infection over 10 years ago as reported in the Daily Mail.

Doctors then had to remove her other remaining toes after she unknowingly picked up shewanella from the spa in 2010, where freshwater fish feed on any dead skin.

Shewanella is a kind of bacteria which can be found most often in water, in food and sewage but rarely causes infection in people.


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However if they do get into the body the bacteria can cause ear infections, cellulitis, abscesses, or infect existing wounds.

It took two years to diagnose Ms Curthoys with the water-borne bug, which had caused fevers and much discomfort.

Bone Infection

After her big toe was removed, the pressure of walking on her smaller toes left Ms Curthoys with ulcers hiding further infections. All her toes were then amputated over the next five years.

The 29-year-old talked about her ordeal: ‘When I was in Thailand I decided to use a fish spa.

‘I thought nothing of it as I’d watched the owner set up the system and it looked very clean, but how wrong I was.’

She said: ‘I ended up getting another bone infection in my big toe and it took doctors over a year to figure out what type of bug I had.

‘By the time they’d realised what it was, my entire toe bone had been eaten away and I’d been suffering from sickness the whole time.

‘They eventually decided to take the big toe off completely. I felt relieved I could go back to my life without being sick all the time.

‘It had a rough callus over the top, but I was unaware that underneath that there was another raging infection. This time, the doctors took the second toe and left me with three toes.

‘I was healthy for another two years, I thought I was very lucky to still have my foot and carried on with my life. But then I started to get sick again.’

She said she would vomit every morning and constantly have a fever – but doctors could not find any signs of an infection.

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Photo from MDWfeatures

 

It Was All In My Head

Ms Curthoys said: ‘So the doctors fobbed it off for a long time and they told me it was all in my head.

‘It wasn’t until my podiatrist ordered blood samples they realised I did in fact have another bone infection and I had a very high white blood cell count. This was why I was feeling so terrible.’

Surgeons removed her third and fourth toes in 2016 but left the small toe.

She said: ‘Because the little toe was the only one left, I kept knocking it and when I walked, and all the pressure would go onto the little toe.

Bye Bye Baby Toe

‘Last year I noticed my small toe wasn’t looking very happy and there was some liquid on my sock, but I couldn’t see any cuts.

‘After a few blood samples and more X-rays, they discovered another bone infection, so they finally took the last toe in November 2017.’

Ms Curthoys said she had to be very vigilant about watching for an infection as she may lose her leg if she doesn’t spot it in time.

Be Careful About Fish Spas

Ms Curthoys is now warning against using the fish spas which caused her so much suffering.

Speaking about her feet now, she said: ‘I can honestly say that my foot has never been as healthy as it is now. Now I can put pressure on my foot.

‘Now and again I tend to trip because of the lack of feeling and having to get used to not having any toes, but I’ve been very lucky to be able to just get back up and walk.

Miss Curthoys added: ‘I used to be a bit worried when I was at the beach or pools in case someone would see my foot and think “yuck”.

Have you or would you visit a fish spa? Tell us in the comments below.


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  • Alot of people swear by this but not for me. Have to pass this on to friends and family to warn them. thanks for sharing

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  • Omg that a bit scary now… Got it one time and i thought its good for us.. but after reading this i am concerned…

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  • WOW, I’ve had a fish spa a few times and always thought it was good for you- I never thought that anything like this could happen!

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  • OMG… I’ve never tried this when we’ve been overseas. There is much about it that creeps me out – the hygiene, the sensory tickling that would freak me out, and that many other people have had their feet in there. I just don’t get it. And for this reason, I will never try it. It realises all of my fears.

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  • I used a fish spa several times over 2 visits to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
    It was a fun experience.
    My family, friends and myself didn’t have any problems or infections.
    My mum and her husband live there and use them regularly.

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  • I had no idea this could happen… I was never enticed to go to a fish spa, but now I will definitely avoid it.

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  • I couldn’t think of anything worse than such a spa. The water couldn’t be clean with fish in it.

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  • Oh my goodness her again another hygiene issue within spa treatments. How terrible and shocking this story is, all the pain and suffering this woman had to endure. The doctors should have also realised sooner about al the the toes. The Podiatrist did? I’m glad this woman is healthy and well again.

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  • Oh no! :-(

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  • So scary particularly since it just kept coming back and back again.

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  • How horrendous – extremely off putting! Poor woman – such a dreadful ordeal.

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  • How awful to go through so much pain and denial of doctors, only to be diagnosed after 2 years and then losing your toes one by one over a course of years. I can imagine that walking without any toes on your foot can be quite hard, especially to find balance.
    I hope the infections have gone for good for Victoria Curthoys !

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  • So glad I never tried these! I can just imagine how many people put their feet in that water. Disgusting.


    • Such a good point – a big ick factor!

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  • Thankfully I would freak out if fish were nibbling my feet. Hopefully thats the last of her infections and she’ll keep her leg.

    Reply

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