This segment is posted as an educational post to help explain the difference between bacteria and algae. Red Tide is caused by an algae. The explanation of this bacteria is at the end of this post.
A mother said her daughter was left fighting for her life after contracting a “flesh-eating” bacteria while on vacation in Florida — and the woman recounted the terrifying experience as a warning for others planning a similar beach vacation.
As told by her own words in a post on Facebook, Michelle Brown wrote that the family was visiting Destin in early June when the girl developed severe pain in her calf, followed by a rash and then a fever, before ultimately being diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and deteriorates the person’s skin and tissue.
It is CRITICAL to be aware of the signs and symptoms and getting treatment quickly.
I have spent the past few days contemplating on if I should publicly share Kylei’s situation. I have spent the past few days seeing numerous friends and family at the beach enjoying their family vacations, and I can’t help but feel sick to my stomach and fear for those I know. We were just there, doing the same thing a week ago. We were on vacation, enjoying the warm weather and the beach.
Now, now we are here and I felt compelled to share more in detail of how we had to fight to save her life and how we are still trying to recover from a fun family vacation at the beach. We were in Florida on vacation when she became ill. We had arrived in Destin, Florida on Friday June 7th. It stormed the first two days of being in Florida. We made the best of those 2 days and started off our vacation with some shopping and having fun around Destin.
We went to the beach on Sunday, June 9th, and then she swam in the pool at our hotel that night (Mind you the pool is chlorinated and constantly being filtered). The beach was closed Sunday when we visited Pompano beach. They weren’t letting people get out into the water beyond ankle deep. The storms from the days prior had stirred up the ocean and it wasn’t as clear as it normally is. The water looked murky. We were only allowed in the water to our ankles because the waves were huge and the undertow was too dangerous.
We made the best of it and had a great day at the beach. Monday morning, June 10th, she woke up with pain in her calf. I thought it was a Charlie horse. It got better throughout the day and she walked fine. Tuesday, June 11th, she woke with more pain and could only walk on her toes the whole day. I though it was odd to have a Charlie horse the whole day and not get better. So I thought then maybe she pulled a muscle somehow, although not recalling how she would have. Wednesday morning, June 12th, she had severe pain in her calf and was in tears trying to walk. She couldn’t. I had to put her on my back and carry her around. We left for home that morning.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three people die from the infection, even with treatment.
In Alabama I called to her doctor to schedule her an appointment to get it checked. We got home 12:30 Thursday morning. Thursday, June 13th, at 11am, we went to the doctor, still carrying her around. They weren’t sure of what was wrong and her level of pain was concerning. They said it would take too long to get specialists in to see her, and wanted me to go home grab clothes and chargers and get to Riley. They thought possibly a blood clot from our travel, but not sure. After leaving the doctors office, she starting developing a rash on her body. We got to Riley at about 2pm.
After arriving and inspecting her leg, it had swelled a lot, was red, had a red line running down her calf and was warm to the touch. She had a fever when we arrived at Riley ER of 99.9. About a half an hour later it had already rose to 103. Everything started going downhill quickly, because to sum things up some, she had contracted a bacteria somehow that had already turned into infection. It was an aggressive infection and has already spread up her leg to her thigh. Her BP was in critical numbers and her HR was very high. They had 4 IVs in and pumping fluids aggressively by machine and by hand simultaneously. She was admitted and put in PICU.
They were trying to stabilize her. They ran tests, took xrays of her leg, which ruled out the blood clot. They ended up putting her on a BP med to help stabilize her. After many many hours, they finally were able to stabilize her. She went for an MRI which is when we found it had spread to her thigh. She had a pocket of infection behind her knee they pulled out via needle. Then they took her in for emergency surgery to try to remove the infection. The infection was in her muscle lining (fascia). They put on a wound vac instead of closing it. We learned Kylei had a very serious infection and the surgery to remove the infection was to try to save her leg, but most importantly her life. She developed septic shock. She had a second surgery. She improved some and we were able to leave PICU and to a regular room and floor. She had a 3rd surgery, which they didn’t find any more infection so they closed it, placing the wound vac to suction any thing that may seep out of the incision. Then we had a bad night/ morning yesterday. Her incision was swollen and warm to the touch again. she kept running fevers. It was a rough day and we thought we would be repeating from step 1 over again. They have put in 6 IVs and she has been on 4 potent antibiotics that are causing her IVs and veins to go bad. She now has a PICC line and all other IVs are out. After spending a week at Riley, we were finally released to go home. Kylei is doing better and stabilized, but she is still sick and have a long road of recovery to go. We are taking oral antibiotics as well as IV antibiotics 3 times a day, and pain meds every for hours. I have to keep a constant watch of her PICC line, her leg and her temperature. After days of only knowing she had contracted a bacteria and quickly turning into an aggressive infection, I now have a name. Kylei has Necrotizing Fasciitis. This is a type of flesh eating bacteria, that is normally found in water. It can be contracted by a scrape, wound, new tattoo, or even through a bruised area of skin. After researching more, 1 out of 3 people who contract Necrotizing Fasciitis die from it, as well as septic shock making that fatality rate even more relevant. I whole heartedly believe she contracted the bacteria through a scrape on her big toe (foot on same leg), while we visited Pompano Beach in Destin, Florida. I am just so thankful for the many prayers, the quick response and efforts of her medical teams and the aggressive treatment she has received. Because of that, I still have my baby girl with me today. We are not completely better, but we are on the road to recovery. We will have numerous doctors visits, physical therapy and blood work to continue, but all that matters is my girl is ALIVE. I wanted to share her story in hopes that it may help save someone else. It is CRITICAL to be aware of the signs and symptoms and getting treatment quickly. Link to CDC
Related Fox New Story – Man gets Necrotizing Fasciitis from fish hook.
Vibrio vulnificus is a type of bacteria. It is naturally occurring. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) does not sample for this bacteria because it is commonly found in warm, brackish and sea water and in shellfish, especially during the summer months.
DOH is constantly monitoring reportable diseases and has appropriate ways to alert the public if needed.
News reports have incorrectly characterized Vibrio vulnificus as a flesh-eating bacteria. It is important to know that there is no such medical term or marine organism.
Infection by Vibrio vulnificus is a rare but serious disease. It is caused by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters or by exposing cuts and wounds to brackish and salt water where the bacteria exists.
The breakdown of the skin known as necrotizing fasciitis is very rare and is most commonly associated with Group A Strep infections, not Vibrio vulnificus.
Millions of people visit Suncoast beaches each year. If you are healthy, have a strong immune system, and practice good hygiene and proper wound care, your chances of getting necrotizing fasciitis is extremely low.
You can download informational articles provided by DOH about vibrio here:
DOH Fact Sheet[PDF 116KB]