It didn’t look like a serious injury, but even a tiny cut can be dangerous in the wrong circumstances.
As Newsweek reports, 77-year-old Lynn Fleming was in one of her favorite places — Florida’s Coquina Beach. The mom was taking a walk along the ocean near her home when she stumbled and cut her leg.
Lynn’s son, Wade, was with her at the time. He told Fox 13:
“There was a little depression that she couldn’t see because it was under the water. She fell into it, came out with a little ¾-inch cut; a bump on her leg. It was just a small cut, didn’t think much of it. We got the swelling down, but it just kept bleeding.”
A few days later, Lynn went to the doctor, where she was given a tetanus shot and antibiotics. But her condition didn’t improve. The next day, friends found her unconscious in her home.
Lynn was taken to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the infection occurs when bacteria, most commonly group A strep, enters the body through a cut, insect bite, abrasion, or other breaks in the skin.
Early symptoms of the bacteria include red and swollen skin, pain, and fever. As the infection develops, other symptoms may arise, such as blisters, ulcers, or black spots on the skin, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, changes in skin coloring, or pus and oozing from the infected area.
Necrotizing fasciitis can move very quickly. Dr. Jason Mansour told CBS Miami:
“It’s an aggressive bacteria, an infection that travels under the skin and causes tissue death. Patients come in with severe pain and by late in the day it spreads up their leg.”
The infection is rare but dangerous. As many as one in three people with necrotizing fasciitis die, while others can develop serious, life-long complications. The CDC recommends practicing good wound care to avoid infection. That means cleaning injuries with soap and water and keeping them covered while they heal. Deeper or more serious wounds should be cared for by a doctor.
In addition, those with open wounds or skin infections should avoid spending time in pools, hot tubs, or natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, or oceans.
Lynn had shown symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis, including fever and a red and swollen leg. Doctors performed multiple surgeries to try to save her life. However, Lynn suffered two strokes and sepsis. She died only two weeks after contracting the infection.
Lynn’s family wants to raise awareness of necrotizing fasciitis, especially because reacting quickly to the first symptoms could make all the difference. Her son told CBS Miami:
“Maybe if she was diagnosed a little earlier, you know, maybe we’d be sitting here talking to my mom without a leg, but you know, with a life.”
The family is still reeling from the speed with which the infection took Lynn’s life. As her daughter-in-law told Fox 13:
“This is the place she loved. She couldn’t wait to get down here and retire. She loved the ocean; she loved walking on the beach. Unfortunately, it’s place that took her life by freak accident.”