By Alyce Collins


THIS WOMAN was devastated after an indulgent Thai holiday fish spa turned into a living nightmare when an infected fish tank led to all five toes being amputated on her right foot.


Property manager Victoria Curthoys (29) from Perth, Australia, received an unwanted infection in her big toe after treading on glass, resulting in doctors amputating half of her toe to kill the infection.

Victoria had her big toe removed after contracting a disease in a fish spa.
Victoria Curthoys /


Four years later, while on holiday in Thailand in 2010, Victoria used one of the ever-popular fish spas whereby small freshwater fish feed off and remove the foot’s dead skin. The treatment gave Victoria another infection to the bone of her big toe with a water-born bug only found in Thailand, which had seeped through her prior surgery wounds.


Upon returning to Perth, Victoria was forced to see doctors after the infection left her with fevers and sickness. Despite her declining state of health, it took doctors over a year to diagnose the disease as Schwelmenella, an infection which eats away at the bone, eventually forcing doctors to amputate the entire big toe in December 2012.

Victoria has had all of her toes removed on her right foot after contracting a disease in a fish spa.
Victoria Curthoys /


After the initial infection was removed through amputation, the pressure of walking on her smaller toes left Victoria with rough calluses and further infections, eventually leading to Victoria’s other four toes being removed over the course of the next five years.


“When I was 17-years old I received a cut on the bottom of my big toe after cutting it on some glass,” said Victoria.

Victoria’s big toe was amputated after she contracted a disease from a fish spa in Thailand.
Victoria Curthoys /


“I didn’t notice it was cut as it was on the bottom of the toe and not causing me any pain.


“It took me a while to realise it was there so by that time I already had an infection in the bone, so the doctors amputated half of the big toe.

Victoria has to check her foot for pressure spots to prevent her from needing her leg amputated in the future.
Victoria Curthoys /


“Then when I was in Thailand I decided to use a fish spa. I thought nothing of it as I’d watched the owner set up the system and it looked very clean, but how wrong I was.


“I ended up getting another bone infection in my big toe and it took doctors over a year to figure out what type of bug I had. By the time they’d realised what it was, my entire toe bone had been eaten away and I’d been suffering from sickness the whole time.

Victoria is now posting pictures of her amputated foot to boost her confidence.
Victoria Curthoys /


“They eventually decided to take the big toe off completely. I felt relieved that I could go back to my life without being sick all the time and I was determined to get better, so I could show the doctors I had been right the whole time.


“A year of walking without a big toe caused ulcers on the second toe from the pressure placed on it. It had a rough callus over the top, but I was unaware that underneath that there was another raging infection.

Victoria’s toes were removed in the space of five years, one by one.
Victoria Curthoys /


“This time, the doctors took the second toe and left me with three toes.


“I was healthy for another two years, I thought I was very lucky to still have my foot and carried on with my life. But then I started to get sick again.

Victoria used the fish spa in 2010, and since had all of her toes in her right foot amputated.
Victoria Curthoys /


“Every morning I would be vomiting and constantly had a fever, but X-rays weren’t showing any signs of infections, so the doctors fobbed it off for a long time and they told me it was all in my head.


“It wasn’t until my podiatrist ordered blood samples that they realised that I did in fact have another bone infection and I had a very high white blood cell count. This was why I was feeling so terrible.

Victoria’s foot after having all of her toes amputated, due to a water-born disease.
Victoria Curthoys /


“In November 2016 my doctors took the third and fourth toes, but for some reason they left the small toe.


“Because the little toe was the only one left, I kept knocking it and when I walked, and all the pressure would go onto the little toe.

Victoria’s foot after having her big toe and second toe amputated.
Victoria Curthoys /


“Last year I noticed my small toe wasn’t looking very happy and there was some liquid on my sock, but I couldn’t see any cuts. After a few blood samples and more X-rays, they discovered another bone infection, so they finally took the last toe in November 2017.”


After suffering her first bone infection in her big toe eight years ago, which was a water-born disease Victoria contracted in a fish-spa, the remaining four toes had to be removed in the following years due to pressure building up on each one, creating a pressure infection.

Victoria had her first toe amputated back in 2012, after doctors spent a year trying to work out what was wrong with her foot.
Victoria Curthoys /


Victoria was afraid of showing her toeless right foot for a while until she came to terms with it. Despite losing all of her toes, Victoria is glad to no longer suffer from infectious diseases and she wants to warn others against using the fish spas which caused her so much devastation.


“I can honestly say that my foot has never been as healthy as it is now. Now I can put pressure on my foot,” said Victoria.

One of the fish used in the fish spas which resulted in Victoria losing all of the toes on her right foot.
Public Domain /


“Now and again I tend to trip because of the lack of feeling and having to get used to not having any toes, but I’ve been very lucky to be able to just get back up and walk.


“My parents are proud of me and my friends think I’m awesome because I’ve been through a lot, but at the end of the day I’ve seen people with far worse injuries and life-altering illnesses, so I consider myself lucky.

Victoria is now hoping to discourage other people from using fish spas as using one led to her losing her toes.
Victoria Curthoys /


“I used to be a bit worried when I was at the beach or pools in case someone would see my foot and think ‘yuck I don’t want to swim whilst she’s in there’, but I don’t think people even notice.


“One day I might lose my right leg entirely as the pressure could build up again and affect the sole of my foot, but I check my foot every day to make sure there’s no new pressure spots.

Victoria is hoping to boost her confidence by posting pictures of her toeless foot.
Victoria Curthoys /


“I also warn people about the dangers of fish spas by discouraging them from using one if I can because we have no idea who those fish have bitten previously.


“By taking photos of my feet and posting them on Instagram I hope to build more confidence in myself and to have a positive impact on others who might not be happy with how their foot or leg looks after amputation.”


To find out more about Victoria’s amputation recovery, visit @terrifically_toeless.