Mel Mitchener didn't think much about it when he noticed some soreness and a small bruise on his left knee last June 10.
Within a few days he was running a high fever and went to bed with what he thought was a bad case of the flu.On June 16, friends had to break his door down in order to get him to the doctor. His ailment was originally diagnosed as scarlet fever. Meantime, his knee swelled and the discoloration spread.
Mitchener, 46, was hospitalized two days later. He doesn't remember much about his hospitalization. He was too sick.
Suffering from pneumonia and kidney failure, Mitchener said he doesn't remember much about that critical time. He was told he was visited by friends, but he doesn't remember any of his visitors.
Doctors confirmed he was suffering from a very toxic strep infection similar to one documented as the cause of serious illness or death in 20 patients in four Intermountain states, including at least two others in Pocatello.
The bacteria has characteristics of the strep infection, which can lead to scarlet fever. It gained national attention following publication of an article written, in part, by two Idaho physicians, which appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine.