Young woman finishes in an wheelchair


24-year-old paralyzed after caressing a street cat

A young British woman petted a street cat on holiday in Portugal and ended up in a wheelchair. Apparently the 24-year-old had infected herself by touching the animal with the Campylobacter bacteria, which meant she could not walk for months.

Bacterial infection putting young man in the wheelchair

Especially in cats, many animal lovers can not help caressing them. This was also the case with Gemma Birch from Southport in north-west England – but then something happened that made her touch only a few of the animals. For the 24-year-old girl, while stroking a street cat, she contracted a bacterial infection that resulted in her landing in a wheelchair.

A young woman was infected while caressing a cat with Campylobacter bacteria. The infection put the 24-year-old in a wheelchair. (Image: Saklakova /

Campylobacter bacteria detected in feces

According to a report in the British newspaper Mirror, Gemma Birch, 24, contracted an infection during a holiday in Portugal in 2014, leaving her temporarily paralyzed from the hips.

According to the blogger, she was in Albufeira, where she met a cat that became her friend.

However, the love of animals was fatal: on the last day of his escape, he vomited again and again and passed out on the return flight.

Back in the UK, she was taken to Southport Hospital, where doctors finally discovered that her feces contained the bacterium Campylobacter.

These germs are usually found mostly in chicken meat.

The symptoms of Campylobacter infection

Campylobacter infections can cause inflammatory bowel disease, which is accompanied by symptoms such as diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and fever.

Nausea and vomiting, blood in the stool and other complaints such as headache and body aches, chills, or fatigue are also possible.

In rare cases, the complication of campylobacteriosis is Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease of the nervous system. The 24-year-old Englishwoman was one of those rare cases.

Disease attacks the nervous system

According to the newspaper's report, Gemma Birch was released from the hospital after a week. But her father quickly brought her back after she had numbness in her legs in the middle of the night.

Doctors diagnosed the patient with Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome – a condition in which the body's immune system attacks its own nervous system.

As a result, the blogger spent four months in a rehabilitation clinic and only returned to normal after 14 months.

"I had to rely on nurses to go to the bathroom and wash. I lost control of my bowel and bladder and could not use my arms and hands because they were too weak," she explained.

She assumes that she contracted the cat infection in Portugal, which may have caught the germs while scouring garbage cans.

This is obvious, among other things, in an earlier study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Researchers have reported that four-legged friends can transmit pathogens harmful to humans, for example by biting and scratching, or even licking the animal on the face.

Patient became more careful

Gemma Birch became more careful after the long ordeal.

"As much as I love her, I could not touch a street cat now. I love pet cats and pet them," said the 24-year-old.

However, she also hopes that "they have not tossed into hotel containers".

He wants people to value their health as long as they have it. (Ad)


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