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Doctors believe flea bite led to Houston man's double amputation, family says

Despite it all, Michael Kohlhof's family said he is staying positive.

SAN ANTONIO — A Houston man is in the hospital after undergoing a double amputation that cost him both of his hands and parts of his feet.

Family members of Michael Kohlhof said this all started with a flea bite. They said he thought he had COVID or the flu at first, but he got sicker and eventually ended up in the hospital.

Kohlhof started to feel unwell in Houston but went to San Antonio last month to help his mom after she underwent surgery. While he was there, he got so sick that he couldn’t get out of bed.

When he eventually went to the emergency room, doctors told him he had typhus.  His partner, Alishpa Masood, said doctors told them that this type of typhus can only be caused by a flea bite.

Michael has spent a month in the hospital. He’s had both of his hands and parts of his feet and toes amputated.

“He has gone beyond our expectations as far as strength and bravery,” Masood said. “He has a really positive outlook that we’re all really proud of.”

Masood and Kohlhof's mother, J'Lenne Hardaway, said that doctors told them this type of flea is only found in California and Texas. They’re pretty sure he got bit in Houston. The whole family has dogs and cats. All are indoor pets.

Family members are sharing his story to hopefully help others. They think getting to a doctor sooner could have made a big difference, but said had they waited any longer, they would have lost him.

“If it were 48 hours later, he would have not made it,” she said. 

Hardaway said Kohlhof was trying to get well on his own to save him a trip to the hospital because he didn't have insurance. 

Kohlhof has a long road ahead of him. His family said they're waiting to learn what happens next but through it all, he's somehow staying positive.

Kohlhof's family set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical bills. If you would like to help, here's a link.

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