A 77-year-old woman in Houston, Texas, has died from flesh-eating bacteria after exposure to contaminated Hurricane Harvey floodwaters.
Second Case Of Harvey-Related Flesh-Eating Infection
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science said that Nancy Reed died of necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection, on Sept. 15. The elderly woman fell into contaminated floodwater and was hospitalized after a wound in her arm became infected.
The elderly woman is the second person who suffered from flesh-eating infection related to Hurricane Harvey. A former firefighter was also infected after he was bitten by a mosquito on his arm while he was performing rescue operations, but he luckily survived.
Peter Hotez, of the Baylor College of Medicine, said that there was a big uptick in serious wound infections after Hurricane Katrina, and they are already on the lookout for similar infections after Harvey.
The floodwaters in Houston area have receded, but officials said that the flesh-eating bacteria may still be present on items and surfaces that were exposed to contaminated waters.
"People think, 'Oh, I don't have water anymore, I'm not at risk,'" said Harris County Public Health executive director Umair Shah. "I think that's the big misnomer."
Reed was born on Jan. 4, 1940, and used to be a former elementary school teacher.
"Nancy was a kind, caring member of the Kingwood community and gave of her time and many talents generously," her obituary reads.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare but dangerous infection that can kill the soft tissues of the body such as the tendons, skin, ligaments, and fat. The infection is caused by group of bacteria that can be easily treated but can be deadly once these have entered the body through a wound or cut.
"More than one type of bacterium can cause this rare disease. These bacteria include group A Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Aeromonas hydrophila," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
"Public health experts consider group A strep to be the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis."
Those who get infected may experience soreness or pain similar to that associated with a pulled muscle. The skin may be warm and marked by purplish or red areas of swelling that spreads rapidly. Some people also get blisters, ulcers, or black spots on their skin. Other symptoms that may later emerge include fever, fatigue, chills, and vomiting.