A Florida woman dies after surgeries to cure her flesh-eating bacteria infection

Grant Boone
July 2, 2019

Wade Fleming told The Associated Press on Monday that Lynn Fleming, who retired to Florida's Gulf Coast, contracted flesh-eating bacteria and died almost two weeks after she fell and scraped her leg while walking on a beach in Florida.

Lynn Fleming slipped in a small underwater depression when she was taking a stroll with her family in in the west coast of Florida, US. On Sunday, her leg had become red and swollen, and her friends insisted that she go to an urgent care facility.

Days later she was rushed to the hospital with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare deadly bacterial infection that kills the body's soft tissue. Fleming was later diagnosed with flesh-eating disease and died days later.

"She loved the ocean; she loved walking on the beach", Wade's wife Traci said.

At first she dismissed the 2cm graze below her knee as a "small cut" and "didn't think much about it".

His wife said her mother-in-law died after walking on "the place she loved".

In this undated photo made available by Wade J. Fleming, Lynn Fleming is seen with her grandchildren Jonathan and Jensen Fleming. The friends came back the next morning to take her to the pharmacy but she did not answer the door. "We're not telling people not to go the beach, just to be educated", he said. According to NBC News, her entire body was infected with sepsis and she also suffered from kidney failure during this time. A few months later, in June, a 12-year old girl contracted a similar infection while visiting Florida's Pompano Beach.

Nearly four years ago she moved to Ellenton, where she took walks, played cards and shared dinners with other retired friends from her singles club.

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She added that unfortunately the beach is a "place that took her life by freak accident".

"Maybe they should consider signs warning people about this at the beach", Fleming said.

Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses as well as 100 deaths in the United States annually, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, according to Fox News.

Accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are important to stopping the infection, according to the CDC, which recommends seeing a doctor right away if you have a fever, dizziness, or nausea soon after an injury, including cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds (including those due to intravenous or IV drug use) or surgery.

Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria found in warm salty waters such as the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding bays.

People also can get necrotizing fasciitis after an injury that does not break the skin (blunt trauma), according to the CDC.

Dr. Stephen Spann, dean of the University of Houston College of Medicine, said that having a wound exposed to brackish water where these bacteria live is one way to get an infection; eating contaminated shellfish - "oysters, primarily" - is another.

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