Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou: Activist battles for life after contracting flesh-eating bacteria from spider bites
Susi recently went on a fishing trip to Mirror Lake in the Uinta mountains and is believed to have suffered at least 15 spider bites
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: A woman in Utah is fighting for her life after suffering 15 spider bites during a fishing trip. She contracted flesh-eating bacteria from the bites and was admitted to the hospital on July 22.
Susi Feltch-Malohifo'ou, 59, recently went on a fishing trip with family and friends to Mirror Lake in the Uinta mountains, where it is believed she was bitten by one or multiple spiders.
According to reports, Susi, who is a popular community leader and runs the non-profit Pacific Islander Knowledge to Action Resources, began to feel unwell soon after the trip. Subsequently, she tested for COVID and flu, and the results were negative.
Her son Adrian Swensen told FOX Television Stations, "When she woke up Sunday morning she had a headache, a fever and was in some pain." He added, "Those symptoms progressed to the point that we decided she needed to see her doctor."
According to Adrian, doctors found 15 spider bites on his mother, some of which had become extremely infected with flesh-eating species of bacteria.
It is believed that what Susi is experiencing is necrotizing fasciitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this is a flesh-tearing condition caused by different types of bacteria. It enters the body through spider bites, especially those from brown recluse spiders, as well as through cuts or burns.
What happens in necrotizing fasciitis?
The infection from the bacteria rots away the soft tissue beneath the skin surface, including fat, connective tissue, and muscles. This bacterial infection can happen anywhere on the body. However, it commonly occurs on the perineum, genitals, and extremities.
If left unchecked, necrotizing fasciitis leads to sepsis and organ failure. If antibiotics are unable to reach the infected tissue, surgery may be required to extract it.
Susi has undergone surgery six times, says family
Susi's infections were extremely severe, and doctors had to remove 10 pounds of her flesh surgically. Susi's stomach and colon were also damaged in the process, they told the family.
Her family, who have started a fundraiser on GoFundMe to cover her medical expenses, wrote, "[She has] been taken into emergency surgery six times, and has kept her on a ventilator in the ICU." The post added, "each time they take her off of it, and we think she is on the mend, they tell us she needs to go back to surgery again, which means she goes back on the ventilator."
The fundraiser, created by her son Adrian Swensen, described Susi as "a fighter and a person of faith. She has experienced many obstacles, situations, hurdles, and setbacks in her life, but, true to who she is, she has used them to help as many people as she can."
The fundraiser has raised $8,625 of its $15,000 goal so far.