Man Has Both Arms and Part of Foot Amputated After a Flea Bite

Michael Kohlhof was just trying to make it through flu season like the rest of us when a flea bite changed his life forever. Last month, the 35-year-old Houston native was rushed to a San Antonio emergency room. Within 24 hours, he had entered septic shock and was on the precipice of death. Dialysis, antibiotics, ventilators, and numerous other medications were required to keep him alive, but with every passing hour, his organs seemed to be shutting down. His family was called in from all over the country, assuming that they were saying their last goodbyes.

Miraculously, Kohlhof managed to make it through his near-death experience, but with severe physical consequences. His hands and feet developed dry gangrene due to vasopressor treatments he had received, and doctors were forced to amputate both his hands up to his forearms, as well as half of his feet.

The cause of Kohlof’s grave illness had been identified: typhus, a rare but serious infection that can damage organs. Usually, a swelling around the bite mark – the only sign of infection for many sufferers – will be enough to prompt a visit to the doctor. But in Kohlhof’s case, no symptoms manifested until it was nearly too late.

Dedicated to his many passions – like volunteering, pet-sitting, and carpentry – Kohlhof was a man whose hands were the focus of his life. But despite his tragedy, he is determined to find a different way forward.

Kohlhof’s story serves as an incredibly important reminder that flea-borne typhus is a serious condition that can quickly cause severe damage to the body. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Kohlhof with his medical costs.