Australian tourist Kay Henry and husband Jack had their
motorcycle tour of the deep south stalled by cellulitis.
Photo by Craig Baxter.
A small pimple that festered with cellulitis cut a
southern motorcycle tour short but the Australian tourists left
Dunedin yesterday thankful for travel insurance and the advice
to seek medical attention quickly.
Gold Coast resident Kay Henry said she and husband Jack had
for three years planned a motorcycle trip around the deep
South with two Dunedin friends.
When the couple, both in their early 60s, rented the
three-wheeled motorcycle in Christchurch for their 12-day
trip, Mrs Henry noticed a small spot on her upper left leg.
After a night in Fairlie, she stopped to swim in a Tekapo
hot-pool and that night in Wanaka saw the spot was redder but
believed rubbing from motorcycle leggings had created the
irritation, Mrs Henry said.
However, when they reached Te Anau on Labour Day she began
feeling hot and shivery despite her temperature being normal,
The couple believed the sore was a spider bite and laughed at
the irony of an Australian being bitten by a spider in New
But fellow biker and friend Gordon Hunt, from Belleknowes,
recognised the skin infection and urged prompt medical
A Te Anau doctor confirmed it was cellulitis, prescribed oral
antibiotics and they continued their holiday.
Despite some soreness, she felt fine, she said.
However, on Wednesday while visiting Cosy Nook, near Orepuki,
the pain was "raging" so they headed for Southland Hospital
in Invercargill, she said.
The doctor told her the motorcycling was over, gave her
intravenous antibiotics and admitted her to hospital.
The next morning, a nurse cut each side of the hard white
boil on her leg to release the "poison". But when it
continued to fester, a doctor operated in the afternoon, she
She finally left hospital on Sunday and was driven to
She began bleeding again yesterday and was stitched up in
Dunedin Hospital before flying to Christchurch. Mr Henry rode
Their flight home to the Gold Coast today had been upgraded
to business class so she could stretch out her leg, she said.
The couple had nearly forgone buying insurance because they
were only travelling to New Zealand, she said.
"Thank God we did."
Mr Henry said he had never heard of cellulitis and was
thankful Mr Hunt knew about the skin infection.
"If we hadn't had Gordon there to say 'don't muck around with
this,' who knows what would have happened?"
Southern District Health Board vascular surgeon Andre van Rij
said cellulitis was very common and very severe infections
could cause kidney failure, the loss of affected limbs and
Some bacteria could spread very rapidly, within a few hours,
Prof van Rij said.
What is cellulitis?
• A spreading bacterial infection of the skin and the tissue
• The bacteria enters small breaks in the skin but can occur
in skin that is not obviously injured.
• Usually develops on the legs but can occur anywhere.
• Symptoms are redness, pain and tenderness of the skin.
• Infected skin becomes hot, slightly swollen and blisters
with fluid may appear.
• Most people feel mildly ill with fever, chills, rapid heart
rate, headache, low blood pressure and confusion.