Insect Bites and Flesh-Eating Bacteria: Jay Fox in Bermuda

The flesh-eating bacteria is everywhere. We’ve already blogged about cases in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

Now here’s a case from Bermuda which involves Jay Fox, a gospel singer from Bermuda who was infected with the disease after he was stung by a wasp. This does not mean, of course, that insect bites can give you this deadly disease. However, insect bites can open wounds which can serve as the “door” for the opportunistic bacteria.

Here’s Jay’s survivor story via the Royal Gazette:

Bermudian gospel singer Jay Fox is pretty confident he has evidence about the power of prayer.

Last June, thanks to a freak accident, he had a ten percent chance of survival. Prayer was all that stood between him and the great beyond.

Mr. Fox spoke for the first time with The Royal Gazette about his miraculous recovery after being attacked by a rare, flesh eating bacteria.

Mr. Fox and his wife Catherine moved to Crossville, Tennessee, in 1996 to pursue respective careers in music and equestrian riding.

Prior to moving to the United States, Mr. Fox was purchasing director at the Elbow Beach Hotel, and sang around the Island extensively.

But it was his interest in carpentry that led to one of the most horrific events of his life.

“A friend of mine asked me to make her a sculpture table,” said Mr. Fox.

The friend suggested Mr. Fox use wood from a pile in a field near her house.

“When I went to lift up the wood, there was a wasp’s nest there,” he said. “I had disturbed them. I had thick jeans on and I didn’t realise one had stung me just above my right knee.”

Mr. Fox was not allergic to bees or wasps, and went on with his day.

“Two hours later I was nauseated and felt a terrible pain in my leg,” said Mr. Fox. “I went home and lay down for a while.”

The pain only got worse. He went to the hospital, but was sent home. The only worrying sign that the doctor saw was a developing purple bruise near the sting site.

Mr. Fox was in pain the rest of the night, and early in the morning, began to suffer from septic shock. He was rushed back to the hospital.

“By the time I reached the hospital, I was in a coma state,” said Mr. Fox, who was aged 59, when he was stung.

A hole opened at the wasp sting site and began spreading rapidly. He was flown to St. Thomas Hospital, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mr. Fox was eventually diagnosed with Group A streptococcal infection. He had a rare flesh eating bacteria in his leg.

“Eventually, the doctors told my wife I only had a ten percent chance of living,” said Mr. Fox, who has four grown children.

The family gathered together at the hospital, waiting to hear the worst. “By this time it was too late to even save my leg,” said Mr. Fox. “It was so rapidly tearing up my leg. By this time it was entering the upper part of my body, and shutting down my organs.”

Mr. Fox doesn’t actually remember any of this as he was in a coma for six weeks.

“When I woke up my leg was gone,” he said. “By that time my leg was actually healed where they had sewn it up. My organs were still very weak.”

He was in recovery for many more weeks.

“What happened to me was not very common,” he said. “There is something similar called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). But the one I had was much more deadly. I had never been sick in my life, and this was one of the worse situations that I have ever experienced.”

“All my life, I have helped people in churches, hospitals and the disabled,” he said. “I thought I’d never would be in the opposite position.”

He credited one thing with his miraculous recovery: prayer. “When the community heard what happened to me, the community stopped and began to pray,” he said. “I didn’t know this until I got home.

“People heard about my situation through word of mouth, and prayed for me.”

“That is the greatest thing about what happened to me,” he said. “It did not effect my faith. It made it stronger.

“The people at the hospital could not understand why I had such a good attitude after something like this had happened. I said ‘I did not lose my faith in God’.”

He is now in a motorised chair, and also has a four-legged walker. It was a long time before he could drive again.

“The first time, I got in the car with my wife, we drove down the road a little bit. It was so easy and natural. I got down the road and started screaming in happiness. Because I felt independence again.”

Mr. Fox used his newly recovered driving skills to visit the people in the community who had prayed for him.

“I wanted to go and thank the community,” he said. “I truly believe that is how I came out of a ten percent chance of dying. Prayer intervened. That is when I began to recover.”

Mr. Fox believed that faith saved him. “God never tells you his plan, it just happens,” he said. “I haven’t written any music since then.

“I have been writing stories more than songs. The last song I released was ‘Amazed’ and that tells the power of God’s grace. That came out before I got sick.

“I was very fortunate to write ‘Amazed’ because I had just finished studying the Book of Mark which talks about God’s healing power.”

Since his accident, Mr. Fox has had the joy of welcoming several new grandchildren into the world. He now has six grandchildren. “A tragedy happened and then came greatness,” he said.

Some of Mr. Fox’s easy listening and gospel albums are available at The Music Box, on Reid Street.