Shepreth Wildlife Park/Instagram

An animal conservation worker has contracted a deadly illness after being bitten by an insect while trekking in the Indonesian jungle.

Rebecca Willers, 37, who owns Shepreth Wildlife Park in Cambridgeshire, was diagnosed with Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis in September, which makes her body think its immune system is under attack.

In 2015 she trekked through the Kerinci Seblat National Park in Indonesia for the Tiger Conservation and Protection Unit.

As someone genetically predisposed to the disease, it's thought the insect bite could have triggered the condition.

When she returned to the UK a series of seemingly unrelated diseases led to a diagnosis of Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis.

Symptoms include her skin and connective tissues hardening, with one in ten people with the condition dying from it within five years.

The Mail on Sunday report that since her diagnosis she has cancelled her pension and is arranging to put her house on the market to pay for tests and treatment.

Willers says it leaves her body feeling "like it is turning into stone":

The scariest thing has been how rapid the onset has been.

My doctor has warned me that the next three years will be the most aggressive. 

Even brushing my teeth is difficult because my hands feel like they are made of rock – I'm unable to grip anything at all. Animals are my life but now I sit in the zoo's office filling in paperwork.

HT Daily Mail

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