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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 12:16 GMT
Flesh-eating bug ends Arctic trek
Jim McNeill
Mr McNeill had hoped to raise more than 2m
A fireman has abandoned his attempt to become the first man to conquer the four North Poles after contracting a flesh-eating bug from a foot blister.

Jim McNeill was just about to start his solo trek when he was found to have developed the potentially fatal condition.

He was due to leave from base camp in the Canadian arctic for the first part of his epic trek in support of Cancer Research UK.

After a blister on his ankle became infected and swelled up, a member of his medical team diagnosed necrotizing fasciitis.

This trip has been two years in planning and I am devastated by what has occurred, but you cannot plan for freak illnesses like this
Jim McNeill
The infection eats away at the flesh and leaves the sufferer with flu-like symptoms.

It can quickly prove fatal if left untreated.

Canada has seen a significant rise in cases over the past few months with 30% of infected people dying.

Mr McNeill will now have to wait until December to try again.

The father-of-three had hoped to raise 2m for Cancer Research UK by walking to the Arctic, Magnetic, Geomagnetic and Geographic North Poles.

'Very costly'

Mr McNeill, of Sunninghill, Berkshire, said: "Effectively, the infection has delayed me by more than a fortnight and losing that time has proved very costly as the weather window of opportunity was already beginning to close on me.

"I won't be fit to set out for at least another 10 days and the increasing likelihood of melting ice further along the line would put me in serious danger of being stranded with no hope of rescue.

"This trip has been two years in planning and I am devastated by what has occurred, but you cannot plan for freak illnesses like this.

"The plan is to return to Britain in May and fly back out to the Arctic in December to make another attempt at the Arctic Pole."

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03 Mar 03 |  England
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02 Jan 03 |  England

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