Flesh Eating Bacteria Patient: Aimee Copeland ‘Laughed and Smiled’, Says Father
A flesh-eating bacteria named Aeromonas hydrophila has caused Aimee Copeland to lose her leg and possibly her fingers as she contracted a rare disease called Necrotizing Fasciitis.
Aimee Copeland, a 24-year old master’s student at the University of West Georgia, was riding a homemade zip line near the Little Tallapoosa River on May 1, 2012 when the line snapped which slashed open her left calf.
She was then bought to the Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, Georgia where the doctors cleaned the gash and closed it with 22 staples. She returned to the hospital the next day complaining of severe pain.The first return, doctors gave her painkillers, while the second return, they gave her oral antibiotics.
It wasn’t until she came back a third time, on May 4, that they finally got the diagnosis correct – a disease called Necrotizing Fasciitis, a dreaded flesh-eating disease or flesh-eating bacteria syndrome – believed to have entered her system through her wounds which she got from the broken zip line.
Since the diagnosis, Copeland’s leg was then amputated and she was flown to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., where doctors removed parts of her abdomen to stop the spread of the flesh-eating disease.
One expert — who is not involved in Copeland’s care — said that if surgeons have been able to get ahead of the spread of her infection, and if Copeland is on the right antibiotics, then the worst may have passed.
What is Aeromonas hydrophila?
According to FDA’s Bad Bug Book, Aeromonas hydrophila is a “species of bacterium that is present in all freshwater environments and in brackish water. Some strains of A. hydrophila are capable of causing illness in fish and amphibians as well as in humans who may acquire infections through open wounds or by ingestion of a sufficient number of the organisms in food or water.”
“This bacteria is a common cause of diarrheal illness. For it to cause a deep wound infection that dissolves tissue, that’s not common. The symptom that should ring alarm bells is serious, unremitting pain,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?
Necrotizing Fasciitis is a rare infection of the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues which easily spreads across the fascial plane within the subcutaneous tissue.
Contrary to its popular name as flesh-eating disease or Flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, the bacteria do not actually “eat” the tissue. The bacteria actually give off toxins that cut off blood flow to parts of the body. The affliction can destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue. Affected areas may have to be surgically removed to save a patient’s life.
Latest Update on Aimee Copeland’s Condition
Aimee’s father, Andy Copeland, has been giving updates on his blog located at the University of West Georgia Psychology.
As of Monday, May 14th, 9:38pm EST, Andy wrote:
Let me just say that we had a lot of fun with Aimee today. Paige arrived in time for our last visit with Aimee and we enjoyed life together the way we always have. We saw Aimee laugh and smile. She told us some things she wanted, we played games with her and she was very stimulated. It was an amazing time. The nurses were even laughing and saying it sounded like a game show in Aimee’s room
Our prayers to Aimee’s family for her fast recovery.