A grieving family is speaking out after their loved one died Thursday from a flesh-eating bacteria she contracted at a popular Florida beach, the Associated Press reports.
Lynn Fleming, a 77-year-old woman who had recently retired to Florida's Gulf Coast, was spending time with relatives visiting her from Pittsburgh, Penn., when she stumbled and fell into the water at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island.
Fleming scraped her leg during the fall and later became concerned when the tiny wound swelled up and wouldn't stop bleeding.
"There was a little depression that she couldn't see because it was under the water," her son, Wade Fleming, told WTVT. "She fell into it, came out with a little three-quarter-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."
After Fleming's relatives left to return to Pennsylvania, her condition continued to worsen. She went to an urgent care clinic, where she was prescribed antibiotics and given a tetanus shot.
The next day, Fleming's friends brought her the prescription drugs and discovered her lying on her bathroom floor in a semiconscious state.
She was rushed to a hospital where doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection, often referred to as a "flesh-eating" disease, as it quickly and aggressively kills the body's soft tissue.
Tragically, Fleming died Thursday after suffering two strokes and going into septic shock during surgeries to save her injured leg.
The victim's son told the Associated Press that the night before his family made the trip home, his mother seemed completely fine.
"You would never know that anything was wrong," Wade remembered.
He told WTVT he hopes that by speaking out about his family's loss, he can help prevent others from the same devastation.
"You get the open wound while playing at the beach, watch it, take care of it," he urged.
Fleming's death came just days after a 12-year-old Indiana girl contracted a flesh-eating bacteria on a family vacation in Destin, Fla.
Kylei Brown scratched her toe on a skateboard before visiting the beach, where she likely contracted the deadly bacteria through seawater.
Brown underwent emergency surgery where doctors removed the affected tissue on her right calf and has since been discharged from the hospital. She will need to undergo physical therapy so she can walk again.
In June, an alarming report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggested a flesh-eating bacteria called vibrio vulnificus may be spreading to regions previously non-endemic to the microorganism due to unusually warm waters.
The bacteria, which causes necrotizing fasciitis, has an extremely high mortality rate, and accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic administration and prompt surgery are extremely important in successful treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Early symptoms of the disease, which can be spread via seawater or even undercooked seafood, include fever, dizziness or nausea soon after an injury or surgery, according to the CDC. Those who believe they may have been infected are urged to seek immediate treatment.