Sunday, May 13, 2012

Woman loses leg to necrotizing bacteria after zip line accident

Woman loses leg to necrotizing bacteria after zip line accident - A 24-year-old Georgia woman remains in critical condition after contracting necrotizing, flesh-eating bacteria during a zip line accident, ABC News reports.

person on a zipline
photo : flickr
Aimee Copeland cut her leg when the homemade zip line she was using to cross the Little Tallapoosa River broke on May 1.

It is theorized that Copeland contracted the bacteria, called Aeromonas hydrophila, from the water, creating a condition known as necrotizing fasciitis. The bacteria have claimed her left leg and part of her abdomen.

"The bacteria produce enzymes that can dissolve muscle deep down," Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told ABC News. "And because it's so deep, it can be a sneaky infection that's not immediately appreciated by the patient."

Copeland had gone to the emergency room after the fall, where she received 22 staples to the gash in her leg, but returned the next day complaining of pain, for which she was given painkillers. She returned again on May 3, when she was prescribed antibiotics. That wasn't enough. She returned for the final time on May 4, when she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. That night, her left leg was amputated to the hip.

Even after the surgery, Copeland's condition has continued to decline. Her pulse stopped briefly yesterday, but doctors were able to resuscitate her. Her condition was reportedly stable by this morning, but she is not out of the woods. Copeland's father told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that doctors are still considering amputating the tips of her fingers and the toes on her right foot due to poor blood circulation.

Copeland's father told Fox News that blood donations are essential for surviving necrotizing fasciitis. "I want to create awareness about giving blood for this particular disease," he said.

A Facebook page called "Believe and pray for a miracle to happen for Aimee Copeland" has attracted more than 18,000 followers. A fund has also been set up to take donations to help pay for her treatment and rehabilitation.

ABC's "Good Morning America" has re-posted this recent interview with Schaffner about identifying the first symptoms of flesh-eating bacteria and the damage it can cause:

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