Second Case Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria Reported

By: CNN (Posted by Carissa Fox)
By: CNN (Posted by Carissa Fox)

(CNN) -- A second case of flesh-eating bacteria has been reported in South Carolina as a Georgia woman continues to battle the same kind of infection.

Lana Kuykendall, 36, is in critical condition fighting a similar infection, her husband says. Doctors have removed skin and tissue from her legs. She is on a ventilator.

In Augusta, Georgia, meanwhile, 24-year-old Aimee Copeland continues to battle a flesh-eating bacteria. Doctors already have amputated her leg and removed part of her abdomen. Her father says doctors probably will amputate her fingers to halt the bacteria's spread.

Copeland contracted the flesh-devouring bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila when she fell from a zip line May 1 and cut her leg. The gash required 22 staples, but days later, still in pain, she returned to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis.

The psychology student is on life support and has since had a tracheotomy.

An unrelated case of necrotizing fasciitis may be responsible for Kuykendall's hospitalization in South Carolina.

She gave birth to twins on May 7 but returned to the hospital days later after noticing a rapidly expanding bruise on her leg. Doctors have since removed dead skin and tissue from both of her legs.

Kuykendall's husband, Darren, said his wife is suffering from flesh-eating bacteria, though doctors have not publicly confirmed the diagnosis.

Copeland is also on a ventilator. Still, Copeland's father and Kuykendall's husband say they remain positive about the women's conditions.

Various bacteria are responsible for the condition called necrotizing fasciitis, in which the bug attacks healthy tissue and destroys it.

The bacteria are common in the environment but rarely cause a serious infection. When they do, the body's immune system is almost always able to fight them off.

Occasionally, however, the bacteria find their way into the bloodstream. That can happen through a cut or abrasion, as was the case with Copeland, or even through a black-and-blue mark or other internal bleeding, as appears to be the case with Kuykendall.

In such cases, doctors must act quickly and aggressively, removing even healthy tissue around the infection site to make sure they've caught it all.

Necrotizing fasciitis is rare. Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, estimates there are fewer than 250 cases every year in the United States, though it is impossible to say for sure because the reporting of such cases is not currently required by law.

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