Man affected by flesh eating disease gets new diagnosis
ELEVEN months ago, Layne Perkins was searching for answers while his leg quickly succumbed to a rare, flesh-eating disease called Legionnaires.
The disease - which is believed to have entered his body through a cut on his foot via potting mix - had begun to devour his leg, leaving him in agony and unable to walk.
And now, the former Mount Chalmers man has been dealt another blow - diagnosed with a rare syndrome known as RS3PE (Remitting Seronegative Symmetric Synovitis with Pitting Edema).
The syndrome predominately affects joints such as wrists and ankles and is a subset of serenegative symmetrical polyarthritis.
"I'm still healing from Legionnaires and still have to wrap my leg," he said.
Mr Perkins sold his Mt Chalmers home and moved to Tin Can Bay to be close to his doctor at Brisbane and receive his monthly checks.
"A couple of weeks ago my doctor said he was happy with my improvement but it will still be another three or four months before I show signs that I'm healed," he said.
"The RS3PE is attacking the cancer in my body but it's now attacking my muscle and bone joints.
"I have to take tablets (28 for the month) which costs me $1270. I'm getting results bit by bit."
There have been no other reported cases of Legionnaires in Australia.
Mr Perkins' doctor was so stunned by the discovery that he organised photos to be taken for a case history to be sent to the Australian Medical Association.
Despite now being able to walk on his leg, Mr Perkins has a permanent limp.
"I muck around in the morning until 11am and then put my feet up for the rest of the day," he said about the pain.
"All around the ankle joint was eaten away and just before Christmas I got special X-rays because they thought there was infection on the bone.
"It hadn't quite gotten in there but it's very sore after I walk around because everything is so eaten away.
"My doctor said everything about it was new to him and I was one of his dearest patients all year. After three months, he was seeing me nearly every day and once I was home I had to send him weekly photos."
Mr Perkins' leg has improved since last year, mostly due to complex skin grafting that required 6-10 inches of skin to be cut off his other leg and put through a mincing machine.
The skin was then stretched over the wound and stapled to the outside area.
The skin then grew from the outside in and the staples were removed two to three days later. A vacuum machine was applied to the area to pressurize it, suck out any fluid and fasten it to the area.
"I didn't have anything underneath it, just bare flesh, and the skin had to grow from the outside all the way in," Mr Perkins said.
"The whole area is absolutely new skin."
Mr Perkins' bandages will come off in the next six months.
He still has a two inch wide hole that weeps but it's an improvement.
He is currently receiving shoulder injections to treat the RS3PE.