Health coach catches a flesh-eating bug from a spider bite

Health coach nearly dies and has to have part of her torso CUT OUT after catching a flesh-eating bug from a spider bite while camping

  • Sylwia Tabor noticed a pimple on her groin while camping in Michigan in 2017
  • Grew to the size of her hand, with purple swelling also appearing on her torso
  • Recovered after surgery to cut away the infected flesh, without a skin graft
  • But was left weak and only rebuilt her strength after starting a carnivore diet 
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A health coach nearly died after catching a flesh-eating bug from a spider bite while camping. 

Sylwia Tabor, 32, of Sacramento, California, was away with friends in Michigan when she noticed a pimple on her groin, which later grew to the size of her hand.

After developing purple swelling across her torso, Ms Tabor was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis and endured a three-hour operation to cut out the infection.

Once recovered from her ordeal in 2017, Ms Tabor continued to feel extremely weak, which she blamed on the strict vegan diet she ate for years.

Sylwia Tabor nearly died after catching a flesh-eating bug from a spider bite while camping. The infection spread across her torso, forcing surgeons to cut out the infected flesh (right). To build up her strength, Ms Tabor (pictured left after the ordeal) adopted a strict carnivore diet 

After starting off 2018 existing on just rare steak and offal, Ms Tabor now eats 2lbs of beef or lamb every day, seasoned with a pinch of salt, and claims she has never felt better

After a friend jokingly suggested she turn carnivore, Ms Tabor started 2018 with a resolution to exist on nothing but rare steak and offal, which she claims made her feel better than ever.

Ms Tabor, who is single, now eats just 2lbs of lamb, beef or offal every day, seasoned with a pinch of salt. 

And she even claims she is ‘grateful’ to her necrotising fasciitis for helping her become a carnivore. 

While on the camping trip, Ms Tabor was aware she had been bitten by a brown recluse spider.   

‘I didn’t think much of it at first,’ she said. ‘It was only a small bite on my ankle.

‘But I [then] developed this pimple in my groin area, which over the next days grew and grew until it was about the size of my hand.’

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Ms Tabor was rushed to A&E, where she was diagnosed and taken to surgery to prevent the infection spreading.

Thankfully, the surgery was successful and Ms Tabor recovered well without the need for a skin graft.

Although free of the infection, Ms Tabor continued to feel unwell, which she blames on a combination of the surgery and antibiotics she was prescribed, made worse by her vegan diet.

‘My digestive system had been wrecked from years of only eating fruit and vegetables,’ she said. 

‘Then one day a friend of mine was joking and said, “maybe you should just go full carnivore”, which I thought sounded like the most unhealthy thing you could do.

‘But the more I looked into it, the more I discovered that meat eating is the most efficient way of absorbing nutrients, far more so than when you add carbohydrates and vegetables into the mix.’

After giving it a try, Ms Tabor claims she instantly felt better and was roused from the ‘sleepwalk’ state she had been in since developing necrotising fasciitis. 

‘I’m grateful to the NF for making me change my diet that was killing me,’ she said. 

Ms Tabor (pictured left after the ordeal) was rushed to A&E when a pimple on her groin spread to the size of her hand. Once diagnosed, the surgery was a success and she did not need a skin graft. Still feeling tired, her friend jokingly suggested she try the carnivore diet (right)

Ms Tabor was bitten by a brown recluse spider (pictured) on her ankle. Although she noticed the bite, she was not worried until the pimple appeared on her groin 

Ms Tabor (pictured left after) believes the combination of surgery, the antibiotics she was prescribed and years of being vegan left her unable to digest anything but plain meat (right)


Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotizing’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.

The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.

Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.

Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.

Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.

Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.

There are 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.

Ms Tabor, who moved to the US from her native Poland with her family in 2000, became vegan after watching the animal welfare documentary Food, Inc. in 2008 while studying at Triton College, Chicago. 

Shortly after adopting the extreme diet, Ms Tabor became weak and struggled to digest her food.  

‘My body was clearly crying out for some protein, because I really started to crave meat, particularly around my period when I would find myself dreaming about eating raw meat,’ Ms Tabor said. 

‘If someone was preparing a juicy steak, I would have to leave the room because the urge to eat it was so overwhelming.’

Despite her cravings, Ms Tabor stuck to her vegan diet, which became even more difficult when she developed an intolerance to nuts in 2010. 

‘It got to a stage where I was essentially just eating fruit, as nuts and then later vegetables started giving me rashes on my skin,’ she said.

‘But that made me even worse than before. The sugar in the fruit made my teeth super sensitive – to the extent where it would hurt just to drink a glass of water – and because I was getting no calcium either, my bones were very weak too.’

Ms Tabor deiced it was time to change when she broke two ribs just moving a box in 2010, but the final straw came a year later when she passed blood in her faeces.  

‘From then on, I knew I had to change, because the veganism was killing me,’ she said.

‘As soon as I took that first mouthful of meat, I felt myself becoming stronger straight away.’ 

Ms Tabor has been left with scars on her abdomen (seen left) but insists she feels stronger than ever.  Right shows the spider bite on her ankle, which infected her with necrotising fasciitis

Although her ‘normal’ diet made her feel healthy at first, Ms Tabor felt more drastic action was needed following her necrotising fasciitis scare.

‘Because I was on lots of antibiotics, which kills all of the good bacteria in your gut that you need to digest things, my stomach was in a mess again and I was feeling terrible, like I was during the worst times of my veganism,’ she said.

‘Then, when my friend jokingly suggested the carnivore diet, after a while I actually started considering it, because by that stage I really couldn’t eat much apart from meat, as it was the only thing that wouldn’t pass straight through me. 

‘For the people who think it might be unusual, I would say just give it a try because it may really help you feel better in yourself.’

Although she has ditched her vegan lifestyle, Ms Tabor insists her diet is still ethically sound. 

‘I source my own meat from a local farmer,’ she said. ‘I know it is coming from a good place, so the ethical concerns I had before don’t worry me any more.’

Ms Tabor’s sister, however, who is a personal trainer, worries she is missing out on many vital nutrients. 

‘But she can see how much healthier I am now than I was when I used to be a vegan,’ Ms Tabor added.

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