Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023
Myrtle Beach is typically quite picturesque, as evidenced by this early morning view at the end of the Cherry Grove fishing pier.
Enlarge / Myrtle Beach is typically quite picturesque, as evidenced by this early morning view at the end of the Cherry Grove fishing pier.

Kelly Verdeck Photography / Getty Images

Authorities and vacationers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are eagerly awaiting more information about a case of flesh-eating bacteria that struck a grandmother from Lumberton, North Carolina, who was staying in the area last week.

The woman’s family, Bonita Fetterman, actually stated online and to local media that she contracted the terrible bacterial infection from water on the beach. But authorities there are skeptical, given the frequent water tests they conduct. They insist on more information.

The case came to light following a viral Facebook post on Sunday by Fetterman’s daughter, Marsha Barnes Beal. In the post, Beal reported that her mother was in stable condition at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill after being flown over and admitted to the intensive care unit there. Beal asked for prayer and said doctors were preparing to cut away the infected flesh from her leg to try and save the limb.

Along with the post was a gruesome photo of Fetterman’s neon-pink, scorching leg (.jpg, you’ve been warned) and a claim about the origin of the infection: the waters of Myrtle Beach. The message went viral. As of Wednesday morning, it has been shared more than 93,000 times.

To speak with NBC affiliate WMBF, Fetterman’s granddaughter gave a more detailed account. She said Fetterman cut her leg on a chair on their hotel balcony during their trip to the beach last week. Fetterman considered it a minor cut and did not seek medical attention. Later she went to the beach. As the family was on their way home on Saturday, Fetterman noticed blisters on her leg. By evening, her leg had turned purple and her family took her to the hospital. The infection continued to spread. Facing amputation and a potentially fatal situation, Fetterman was transferred to UNC on Sunday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, necrotizing fasciitis — or flesh-eating infections — are those in which bacteria destroy and kill soft tissue, often with the help of toxins. The fast-moving infections can be caused by several types of necrotizing bacteria, including A Streptococci (group A streptococci), Klebsil, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureusand Aeromonas hydrophila. As of 2010, there are about 700 to 1,100 reported cases in the US each year. While it is likely that not all cases will be reported, the number of cases does not appear to be increasing.

An infection can ignite when one of those bacteria enters a wound, such as Fetterman’s cut. Those most at risk for wounds infected with necrotizing bacteria are those with diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, or other chronic conditions. In terms of exposure risks, the CDC notes water as a source, including in hot tubs, hot tubs, swimming pools and natural bodies of water, such as beaches. But, the agency notes, most cases happen randomly.

“It is important to note that this type of condition is not necessarily associated with exposure to natural bodies of water such as oceans, lakes or rivers or poor water quality,” Robert Yanity, spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, told myrtlebeachonline .com.

In a statement, the City of Myrtle Beach responded to the situation, writing:

The City of Myrtle Beach is aware of a Facebook post reporting bacterial problems along the Grand Strand. We have not received any reports or direct contact regarding such issues. The city has not been able to confirm the location or date of any such incident. At the moment we only have a Facebook message, with no confirmation. The quality of our ocean water is tested twice a week with excellent results. If we can determine where such contact occurred, we can order additional water quality testing to determine if there is a connection.

City spokesman Mark Kruea said so The Washington Post that the city had contacted Fetterman’s family but received no response.

“We don’t think the water is a factor,” he added. “But in the absence of additional information, I’m not sure what to do at this point.”

By akfire1

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