PM: foot infection could have been fatal
1 November 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has revealed in an open-hearted interview that his recent foot infection was potentially life threatening.
1 November 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has revealed in an open-hearted interview that his recent foot infection was potentially life threatening.
Balkenende said he realised the seriousness of the infection only when he was starting to recover. "I received letters in the hospital from parents who had lost children to this sort of complaint," he said.
"That's why I realised that it could have been much worse. During the treatment, I had no time to be very concerned," the prime minister said on television programme Netwerk.
Balkenende's infection started as a small wound on a toe, but it soon became red and within several days he could no longer walk without severe pain. He was admitted to hospital in Capelle aan den IJssel on 14 September.
Admitted with a high fever, doctors tried to treat the streptococcus and staphylococcus bacterial infection with strong antibiotics. But blood tests later revealed that Balkenende needed an immediate operation.
Balkenende said staphylococcus is usually treatable with medication, but streptococcus is very dangerous and is a flesh-eating bacteria, Dutch public news service NOS reported. "The combination can be fatal," he said.
Such an infection can spread via the blood to the heart valves and damage them or force the amputation of a foot or leg. But the Christian Democrat CDA leader said that he had never been at risk of dying because the doctors had "been on time".
The prime minister underwent two operations to cut the infection out of his right foot and underwent a third operation to transplant skin to the wound. He was eventually released from hospital on 15 October.
Balkenende returned to work on Monday and started by thanking staff at the Ministry of General Affairs for their best wishes. He also thanked Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm for the "excellent way" in which he replaced him, the website regering.nl said.
Balkenende had been fit enough to attend the signing of the European Constitution in Rome on Friday 29 October.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news