Michigan man suffers multiple amputations after rare strep infection

18 March 2017

A Michigan man who suffered a strep throat infection had to undergo amputations of parts of his hands and feet.

Kevin Breen, 44, developed an extremely rare strep infection and nearly lost his life shortly after his son recovered from a case of strep throat. The infection, which typically affects the throat and tonsils is caused by streptococcal bacteria.

Around Christmas, Breen developed flu-like symptoms, and visited an urgent care clinic with stomach pain, but the tests did not reveal flu and strep.

However, there was no improvement in his pain, and he was admitted to the emergency room.

At the emergency room, his stomach started to enlarge and harden and hospital staff suspected a mild case of acute pancreatitis, according to Breen's wife, Julie.

But due to signs of shock, doctors decided to take him into surgery to find the cause of his problems.

Breen had to undergo surgery which revealed three litres of pus surrounding his organs, which  mystified the doctors.

"Normally, we have to look for things such as perforations. We look for holes in the stomach or in the small bowel of the colon, and nothing was found," said Dr Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Doctors redirected blood flow to save his organs, which cut off blood supply to his hands and feet. But a rash which appeared on his torso indicated a possible strep infection. However, by the time a test was conducted on his stomach and penicillin was administered, it was too late for his hands and feet.

Steensma  told Wood TV that it was extremely rare for a strep infection to travel from the throat to a patient's stomach, and that Breen was only the second documented case involving a male.

''Life is forever going to be different,'' Julie, Breen's wife, told WOOD-TV, suggesting her husband would eventually receive prosthetic limbs. ''But different doesn't necessarily have to be bad. It's just going to be what we make it, and we just have to figure it out, figure it out for our kids. Dad's going to have cool hands, Dad's going to have cool feet. We want to be positive.''

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