The brave baby fighting for survival who is being eaten alive by a rare bacteria

Tragic Simon Seyfarth is just 17 months old and has been operated on 24 times as a rare virus literally eats him alive.

Simon, from Erfurt in Germany, manages to smile for the camera even though he has had one foot amputated and the unseen killer in his little body gnaws through bones, veins, muscle tissue and skin.

He suffers from the rare Waterhouse Friderichsen Syndrome, a form of meningitis that is extremely rare.

No longer able to eat - the bacteria has dissolved his gullet - he is fed through a pipe in his chest. The bacteria threatens to take his left arm in a matter of weeks.

His father Sven, 27, a building worker, says his son has no idea how close he has come to death - and how much of a miracle it is that he is still alive.

Sven said: "He sits there and pulls with his stubby fingers at all these tubes leading into him. He has no concept of what is happening to him, only that he is in a great deal of pain.

"Doctors say he is the bravest little boy they have ever seen."

Professor Uwe Friedrich of the Helios Clinical Centre in Erfurt where Simon is being treated said:

"He is being eaten alive. The disease is often fatal and death sometimes occurs in the first few hours of life.

"But Simon is a fighter and we have recently seen that his blood count is up and we are battling on to try to save him."

Dr Hans-Jörg Bittrich, the doctor in charge of him at the clinic's intensive care ward, said: "He is being given morphine for the pain.

"Over 50 percent of his body is injured. But he is certainly one brave little boy. He makes everyone here feel very humble indeed."

If penecillin halts the infection Simon will have a chance at life. The next few weeks are critical - but, as his proud father said, "he is nothing if not a fighter."

I hope something can be done to help this dear brave child.

- Tw, London

We all have bad days and think everything is really awful and then you read things like this and bless all around you.

My heart goes out to this poor little boy and his family.

- Veronica, Manchester

What an extraordinarily frightening story, the medical scientists must find out what this is fast. Forget about atomic bombs and terrorists, we are all going to be destroyed by man eating bacteria.

- Jim, UK