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A mountaineer about to complete the Seven Summits had to teach herself to walk again after she was struck down by gruesome flesh-eating bacteria which has started to spread in Victoria. Climber Jan Smith, from Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, was left with gangrenous open wound on her left ankle after contracting mycobacterium, known as Buruli Ulcers, from a mosquito bite while gardening in early April.

The 72 year old mother of three went to hospital when she could no longer ' tolerate' the crippling pain but was misdiagnosed and the bacteria continued to eat away at her flesh, fat, tendons and nerves around her ankle for another month. " The bacteria suppresses your immune system and also emits a toxin and makes gangrene which starts to kill the tissue " she told Daily Mail Australia.

In the end it got so big, red and swollen I thought I better go to the emergency department and they diagnosed cellulities which is a soft tissue infection but that was only the beginning of the story, " Dr Smith told Daily Mail Australia. 

' I had such bad pain and I couldn't control or tolerate it any more,' Dr Smith said. ' I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy,' she added. She was taken to the Alfred Hospital, in Melbourne, and doctors questions whether they should surgically remove the dying flesh but Dr Smith who was climbed six of the Seven Summits and has to defer her last trip because her ankle - did not want to risk losing mobility in her leg.

The number of Buruli Ulcers has more than tripled in five years , according to The Age, and doctors told the mountaineer the bacteria had been spreading across Victoria towards Melbourne through mosquitoes eating possum faeces. The mosquitoes eat the possum poo and pick up the bacteria then inject you with the bug when they stick you. 

' The bug used to be quite rare but is becoming quite frequent,' she said.

Victoria is also the only non-tropical area to record cases of the ulcer. The Age reported Buruli Ulcers have reportedly spread to inner Melbourne suburbs, such a Bentleigh, Hampton and Cheltenham, with 45 cases already detached in the year to August. Austin Hospital Associate Professor, Paul Johnson, it is still unknown how the ulcer is spreading.

Dr Smith said the board-spectrum intravenous antibiotics she had been on for a month was not an effective treatment for Buruli Ulcers and a consultant for Infections diseases from the Alfred recommend she be switched to a strong oral antibiotic, which she has been on for two months now. 

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