01.03.2024

Ohio man has every toe on his right foot amputated after a TICK bite caused deadly blood infection

A man from Ohio had to have five of his toes amputated after suffering a tick bite while on a summer fishing trip. Tim Rosebrook, from Toledo, has now been left with a stump for a right foot after the bite triggered an infection that cut off blood to his toes.

Mr Rosebrook thought nothing of it when he noticed a tick on his third right toe following the trip last July.

He removed the parasite and went about his life, but over the course of the next three weeks, his toe turned black and by the time he went to doctors, they had no choice but to amputate.

Tim Rosebrook, from Toledo, had five toes on his right foot amputated after a tick bite became infected. The infection ended up cutting off circulation to his toes

Tim Rosebrook, from Toledo, had five toes on his right foot amputated after a tick bite became infected. The infection ended up cutting off circulation to his toes

Mr Rosebrook (right) is pictured above with his doctor, Dr Ahmad Younes, a cardiologist at ProMedica in Ohio

Mr Rosebrook (right) is pictured above with his doctor, Dr Ahmad Younes, a cardiologist at ProMedica in Ohio

Doctors said the bite had triggered an infection which had damaged his blood vessels and caused critical limb ischemia, or when the blood flow to extremities like the toes is restricted.

This leads to a lack of oxygen and nutrients in these areas, risking cell death and problems with repairing wounds — such as from a tick bite.

Doctors warned that in many cases of this condition, they would need to amputate someone’s leg below the knee.

But with Mr Rosebrook they were able to avoid amputating his lower leg after performing surgery to reconstruct some of his veins, restoring blood flow to most of the affected area.

Describing losing his third right toe, Mr Rosebrook told 13ABC: ‘They sent me to Flower [hospital], checked me out there, and next thing I know they took off the third toe.’

When he returned in November with another diseased toe, he said: ‘That toe they took off right there in my room, it was infected that bad!

‘In that whole week, we went with taking a toe off, and then we went to working on the veins on the right leg, and then the following day is when they took all the toes.’

During a tick bite, the critter burrows its head underneath the skin before injecting a numbing saliva so the host won’t notice any pain. It then starts to suck blood.

At this time, however, there is also a risk of the tick transmitting dangerous bacteria to a host which may cause an infection.

Dr Ahmad Younes, a cardiologist at ProMedica in Ohio who treated Mr Rosebrook, said the hospital had ‘declared war’ on the infection to save their patient.

‘We know that patients with critical limb ischemia — which is what he had — are at high risk of amputations,’ he said.

‘This is an advanced condition of peripheral arterial disease, where there is cholesterol plaque in the arteries that supply his foot, and that prevents wound healing if there’s no adequate blood flow.’

The doctor was able to save Mr Rosebrook’s leg after performing surgery to reconstruct some of his veins

He added: ‘The word we use I think — we’re gonna go to war to keep this leg on.’

In a warning to others, he said: ‘Not every tick bite will cause patients to lose their legs, but we’re more careful with patients with risk factors.

‘If they have diabetes, if they have high cholesterol, if they’re smokers, if they have heart disease, these patients have a higher risk of peripheral arterial disease and we take any of their wounds seriously.’

About 50,000 Americans are bitten by ticks annually, estimates suggest, although it is only in rare cases that this leads to amputations.

Tick bites are becoming more and more common, however, as warmer temperatures allow the critters to be active for longer and to spread further north.

Doctors recommend receiving treatment for a bite if someone is concerned, especially if a red bulls-eye shape appears around it — which is indicative of Lyme disease.

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