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Diagnosis of 'medieval' illness in Norfolk sparks flood of enquiries

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A Norfolk hospital has set up a website on actinomycosis, an illness once common in medieval times, following its high profile diagnosis in a patient.

Actinomycosis was finally diagnosed in Christine Wicks when she was referred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, after more than 1,000 visits to hospitals in London over 20 years. The case received national media attention at the end of last month.

The hospital has been so inundated with requests for information by patients with similar, undiagnosed symptoms that a website has been set up for them to share their experiences.

The bacterial infection causes abscesses, fever and muscle pain and, if left untreated, can spread to the heart and brain. It is thought to have been common in medieval times, but became rare with the widespread use of antibiotics.

‘It seems this medical condition may be more common than doctors thought, because it has been suppressed to a certain extent by the general use of antibiotics in recent decades,’ said Ms Wicks who is now recovering with daily, three-hour doses of drug treatment.

The discussion group can be accessed at via the front page of the hospital's website or directly by clicking here.

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