My MRSA hell
A trip abroad turned into a “nightmare” for a local man who fell victim to an MRSA outbreak contracted from the Tai Homespa.
Requesting anonymity, the man told The Royal Gazette: “I lay in a delirious state in a hospital bed for days with a temperature of 104F. The medications they were giving me weren't working — because it turned out I had MRSA.”
The bacterium, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is resistant to many conventional drugs used to kill germs.
Attending the spa in August for treatment of a back injury, the man said his massage at the Laffan Street spa had been “fantastic” and relieved the pain.
“But now I've found out that the woman who did it had MRSA,” he said.
Roughly ten days later, he embarked on a trip around Ireland with his wife, arriving in Dublin on August 29 — not realising he was already infected.
“Then I started feeling rough. The next day I went to see a doctor in Galway. I had a red mark on my leg that felt like a bruise. I figured it must have been from moving suitcases.
“After that, I started feeling like I was getting a fever. I felt woozy, and the doctor prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic and sent me on my way.”
The next day, however, he awoke to a fever and “a red inflammation breaking out on my right shin”.
Reaching the city of Cork a day later and paying a special trip to kiss Ireland's fabled Blarney Stone was “a mistake”, he admitted.
“By then I knew I had to go to a doctor, who said she wasn't touching me. My leg was so swollen, my calf was bigger than my thigh.”
Doctors asked him what he'd been bitten by, and the victim assumed he was reacting to a bite from a spider.
By the time he checked in at Waterford Regional Hospital, he said, “my leg was rotten looking” — and when doctors took a sample with a syringe the pain became “excruciating”.
“The syringe felt boiling hot. Four hours later they came back and told me this was serious,” he said.
Doctors decided to rupture the abscess forming on the man's leg, as MRSA rapidly builds up toxic pus.
The draining of his leg immediately relieved the victim's fever — but what emerged was “like a horror movie”, he said.
Such intense heat had built up in the infection that his skin felt scalded by the discharge, he said.
“After that, I had a continuous fever of 104F for three days straight.
“This then resulted in me having to have two surgeries under general anaesthetic to evacuate all the remnants of the poison remaining within me and also having an MRI, an Echocardiogram and an ultrasound to determine the extent of the infection — which, thankfully, had not spread.
“I was placed on IV medication and was having blood drawn every six hours along with an anticoagulant to ensure blood clots did not form.”
Aside from losing his holiday, he was left roughly $5,000 out of pocket.
“I had to endure a 12-day stay in hospital overseas, at an expense financially for my wife who was travelling with me, as well as extra expenses of rebooking airline tickets and hotels that weren't planned,” he said.
While in isolation in Ireland, he learned he'd been infected with MRSA — and that the infection had come with him from Bermuda.
“They reckon it will be Christmas before the hole in my leg is fully healed,” he said.
Eventually returning home, he was “appalled” to learn that a friend who had recently undergone surgery had gone to the same spa during the period when infection was a risk.
“I just want to know what kind of standards they have for these places, what testing they do and how it's enforced,” he said. “I was told the germ can enter through a hole as tiny as a pin prick.”
He has learned of others affected, but says to his best knowledge, he was the worst-hit.
Now mulling legal action, he added that his feelings toward the Tai Homespa are mixed.
“Put it this way, I won't go back — I'll be wary of even going to a place like that,” he said. “I will want to know exactly what goes on there and how everything is done.”