A teenager has left hospital in a wheelchair three days after tiny sea crustaceans made a meal of his legs during a dip at a Melbourne beach.
Shocking images of Sam Kanizay’s lower legs and feet have been beamed around the world after the 16-year-old went for a dip at Brighton’s Dendy Street Beach on Saturday night to cool his aching muscles following a tough game of footy.
He walked out of the water covered with “hundreds of little pin holes” that wouldn’t stop bleeding thanks to sea crustaceans which feed on flesh, Sam’s father Jarrod Kanizay told AAP.
After three days bedridden at Dandenong Hospital, Sam on Tuesday needed the help of a wheelchair to get home, his feet still bandaged.
“They were so small but they’ve made such an impact on Sam. There must have been thousands around his legs,” Mr Kanizay told AAP.
“He’s got some soft spots at the back of his leg where they must have eaten a little bit more.”
Doctors were initially at a loss to explain what had caused the excessive bleeding but the tiny creatures turned out to be scavenging crustaceans known as lysianassid amphipods.
“It’s not a burrowing animal, it’s not a toxic animal, and it just loves eating our flesh,” Mr Kanizay said.
Museums Victoria marine biologist Genefor Walker-Smith, who examined a sample of the bugs collected by Mr Kanizay, said it was possible they contained an anti-coagulant similar to that produced by leeches, which explained the inability to stem the flow of blood.
The family knew of four other cases where people walked out of the water with unexplained bloody bites but Mr Kanizay said Sam’s experience wouldn’t deter them from going for a dip.
“We all need to go into the water and celebrate the bay and use it,” he said.
“Sam will be back in the water within no time, he can’t wait.”
The story of the boy with the bloody feet made global headlines, with the Kanizays hearing from relatives who watched news reports in Slovenia.
The story also made news in Norway, Sweden and Tanzania.
“It’s great that people are being educated along the way – educated and I guess entertained,” Mr Kanizay said.