Blogger, 24, Paralysed After Stroking Stray Cat While On Holiday In Portugal

Blogger, 24, Paralysed After Stroking Stray Cat While On Holiday In Portugal
Gemma only returned to her normal self after 14 months of medical treatment (Image: MDWfeatures / Gemma Birch)

A blogger was left paralysed from the hips down after she contracted a bacterial infection from a stray cat.

Gemma Birch, 24, of Southport, Merseyside, grew fond of the stray animal, named Catarina, during an all-inclusive stay at holiday resort in Albufeira back in 2014.

Unbeknown to her, the animal was carrying a potentially deadly infection which ultimately left her wheelchair-bound for months.

Birch says she began vomiting uncontrollably on the final day of her getaway and became faint on the flight home.

She was rushed to Southport Hospital where doctors eventually discovered that her stool contained the bacteria campylobacter - commonly found in raw chicken.

Gemma Birch while on holiday (Image: MDWfeatures / Gemma Birch)

Birch was discharged from hospital a week later, but was rushed back by her father after she began to feel numbness in her legs in the middle of the night.

Doctors then diagnosed her with Guillain-Barré syndrome - a condition which causes the body's immune system to attack its own nervous system.

Miss Birch has recounted how she spent four months in rehab and only returned to her normal self 14 months on.

Gemma could not fully walk for over four months (Image: MDWfeatures / Gemma Birch)

She said: "I had to rely on nurses to take me to the loo and wash me. I lost control of my bowels and bladder and I couldn't use my arms or hands because they were so weak."

Miss Birch believes the animal could have picked up the infection after rummaging around in rubbish bins.

Her ordeal has left her too scared to pet stray cats, but says she will not let it put her off stroking domestic animals in the future.

"As much as I love them, I couldn't touch a stray cat now. I love pet cats and would stroke them as I would [and] hope they haven't rummaged around hotel bins."

She says she now wants people to appreciate their good-health while they have it.

"I don't want people to wait until they have a negative life experience to appreciate life and live in the present.

"I hope my story inspires people to appreciate everything they have."