Phuket man dies from flesh-eating bacteria

Veera Pantip, who contracted flesh-eating bacteria from a neighbourhood cat scratch, died at Vachira Phuket Hospital yesterday (Mar 9). Photo: The Phuket News

The 63-year-old man who contracted flesh-eating bacteria from a cat scratch near his home in Rawai in January has died. The man, Veera Pantip, passed away at Vachira Phuket Hospital yesterday (Mar 9), his family confirmed to The Phuket News.

Rungnapha Ngachan, Mr Veera’s daughter-in-law, also confirmed that Mr Veera, a Muslim, was buried yesterday in accordance with his beliefs.

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“My condolences to Khun Nate (Mr Veera’s daughter). It is one of the saddest moments in my life,” Ms Rungnapha said.

“I miss him every time I see boats at the pier. After today I will not see him drive his boat back to us ever again,” she added.

Mr Veera was admitted to Vachira Hospital on Jan 18 after a scratch on his right shin and calf from a neighbourhood cat two days earlier had failed to heal.

He was soon diagnosed as having contracted necrotising fasciitis, a deadly flesh-eating bacteria, and had his right leg amputated in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading. (See story here.)

Dr Jirapan Taepan, Chief of the Phuket Public Health Office (PPHO), which operates all three main government hospitals on the island, on Jan 27 said, “The patient’s existing medical condition was the primary reason the infection became so severe.

“This case has more to do with Mr Veera’s existing health condition, which allowed the bacteria to flourish and cause a severe infection.

“I don’t think it is important to find this cat. The bacteria that caused Mr Veera’s infection is common and can be found almost anywhere.”

However, Dr Chalermpong Sukonthapon, Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, told a press conference just days earlier, on Jan23, “Necrotising fasciitis is rare, but it can especially affect people with low immunity, including those who take steroids. People with normal immunity levels should find that the wounds will heal by themselves.”

Dr Jirapan was not available for comment yesterday. Staff at the hospital and the doctors assigned to provide care for Mr Veera also declined to comment.

Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos told The Phuket News yesterday that he was already aware of Mr Veera’s passing.

Mayor Aroon said he would visit Mr Veera’s family to pay his respects. “I will visit them later this month.” he said.

Rawai officials have been unable to find the cat that caused the killer infection, he added.

“The cat is a ‘neighbourhood cat’. The owner of a house in his neighbourhood (in Soi Ruamjai 1, off Wiset Rd) has many cats and they are free to roam, and nobody knows which cat it was.

“We don’t know where the cat is. There is nothing more we can do,” he said.

Dr Weerasak Lawtongkum, Deputy Director of the Vachira Hospital’s aptly-called Medical Department, on Jan 27 urged all people bitten or scratched by animals, including pets, to apply basic first aid, but to seek medical care if the wounds do not heal.

-The Phuket News

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