May 10th, 2012
07:22 AM ET

Student fights flesh-eating bacteria after zip line fall

[Updated at 3:57 p.m. ET] A University of West Georgia graduate psychology student is fighting for her life with flesh-eating bacteria after falling off a homemade zip line and cutting her leg, CNN affiliates WSB report and WXIA report.

Aimee Copeland, 24, fell off a homemade zip line near a friend’s home in Carroll County, Georgia, on May 1. Doctors at a hospital in Augusta were forced to amputate most of her right leg on Friday after the bacteria destroyed her leg muscles and moved into other parts of her body. She stopped breathing and at one point and had to be resuscitated, her father, Andy Copeland, told WSB.

On Thursday, Andy Copeland told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her hands and her remaining foot also will have to be amputated.

But he said she was showing improvement at a hospital in Augusta and was "extremely responsive, coherent and alert" on Thursday, the AJC reported.

The AJC reported that Copeland contracted Aeromonas hydrophila in the deep gash in her leg after the zip line broke.

Filed under: Georgia • Health
soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. Bill

    Goes to show us there's lots of stuff we don't have a good handle on yet! Let's hope all works out K.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Yeah, you are right. We should stop funding scientific research at the federal level and let the private sector do it.

      May 10, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. momoya

    I blame Tanner Hospital in Carrollton, Georgia.. They sent her away several times with Motrin and Tylenol until her visit on Friday when a doctor realized what she had and admitted her.. Had they trusted her reports of her pain level this tragic event would have unfolded much more favorably.. It's a shame.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      This is thankfully, incredibly rare. The doctors did their job, they diagnosed her with what they thought she had based on her symptoms. Probably nobody in that hospital had ever even seen someone with this before. Doctors are not gods, they can only do the best they can. Stop rushing to find someone to blame every time someone is hurt. Life has risks, deal with it.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      they had no idea she contracted that bacteria from river water. in case of this type of flesh eating disease very little signs show on surface of skin. the wound took 22 staples so they attributed pain to that. in hindsite they could have tested her blood if they suspected she kayaked in polluted waters

      May 10, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      Maybe you should become a doctor since you seem to know so much.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • TonyMontana1

      Sometimes doctors don't know everything, they are not perfect. Get over it.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • LaShawn

      Exactly!! They're so busy thinking that everyone is merely seeking drugs that they dismiss the claims of extreme pain as insincere. This is very much partially their fault and they should feel horrible!!

      May 11, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Maybe she shouldn't have used the homemade zip line.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. deaglio

    Oh dear. I hope she will pull through. Stay strong, Copeland family!

    May 10, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Aezel

    Unfortunately, with this strain of bacteria, the doctors are correct.

    To give you an idea of how fast this moves, a family member of mine lost his arm to this. It started in his finger, and when he arrived at the hospital the doctors wanted to immediately amputate his hand. He asked for ten minutes to think about it and by the time that was over they had to take his arm above the elbow.

    If this is in her blood, it is essentially too late. I feel bad for her and her family. Cases like this need attention because they highlight the human cost of casual abuse of our available antibiotics, and what happens when bacteria evolve to become immune after exposure.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Evolve?! Did you mention evolution!? You are a Bible hater! You should spend eternity burning! Evolution does not exist, and should not be mentioned when all this family needs is prayer!

      May 10, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • shaunalynndesign

      It's such a shame that they didn't identify it earlier, it's such a fast moving disease. The good thing about this is that while they don't know much more about this disease these days, they know more than they did 19 years ago. My little sister was diagnosed with this when she was 2 and picked it up while she had chickenpox. At the time they had no idea what it was because there were only 5 cases in the US at the time. Her stomach on the lower left side kept swelling and they didn't know why and all they could do was cut open and push out the infection. Thankfully she survived (she will be 21 this year), but it was a scary thing to happen and the doctors then had no idea what it was either.

      May 11, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lew

    So sad 🙁

    May 10, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. sir si

    I wish she recovers!

    May 10, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Flesh Eating Bacteria

    So no guess where the flesh eating bacteria came from, she falls from zip line gets cut (on rock or branch or ?) is the thing she got cut on where the bacteria was living? was it on her skin and the cut just allowed it to get in and flourish? I hope she makes it but also would like to know about the bacteria where and how.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      blood tests showed it came from water they were in.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      From what I understand this bacteria lives in deep water pockets of slow moving or still waters in mostly warm climates.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    And yet, our government squanders all our hard-earned resources on overseas wars and involvement in the affairs of other countries. If our money would stop being spent on useless war, this place would be a paradise and our scientific technology would be jaw-dropping.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • noteabags

      And blocks stem-cell research.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • DP

      Yes, and we would have personal robots and money would fall from the tree tops and pixies would fly around and sprinkle magic pixie dust all over the place creating world peace. Our world was hardly a paradise before the war and our jaw-dropping technology was mainly R&D by the defense industry. It is simply amazing that you can take a story like this and some how blame our involvement in the war. I bet it was also Bush's fault.....

      May 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • vbscript2

      You do realize that a very large percentage of the technological advances that have been made, especially during the last 100 years, have been because of military research, right? While I'm all for not being involved in wars, to say that we would have some kind of technological paradise without them is the opposite of the truth.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • LaShawn


      May 11, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • crew

      I find it amazing, all the fallacies and unqualified conclusions that readers come up with. "I blame Tanner hospital...", "And yet our Government squanders...", "Cases like this need attention because they highlight the human cost of casual abuse of our available antibiotics...". Shouldn't you folks be posting on some conspiracy theory blog somewhere instead of CNN?

      May 11, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      First man would have to value peace more than war. Unfortunately, men enjoy the power and macho feeling of killing and destruction.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rich

    This is a very sad situation. I feel for the woman and her family. I would like to say that if I were in this situation I would be taking extremly high doses of vitamin D, drinking large amounts of colloidal silver and eating as much Manuka honey as I can get my hands onto. Too bad all the doctors know how to use is the anti-biotics pushed by big pharm.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Rich, I agree on the colloidial silver... bet they never even tried.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • pragmatist

      rich–comments like this will injure more people than help. Infections like this can be cured with only IV antibiotics and AGGRESSIVE surgical removal of infected tissue (often amputation). Vitamin D affects the body very slowly, silver helps topically, and I don't even know what Manuka honey is but I guarante you won't be able to put any on your biscuit because you'll probably be so sick you'll be intubated with a tube in your trachea. Stick to tree hugging my friend...

      May 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • gina

      I totally agree with you. And mega doses of vitamin C.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. S Adams

    I had the same thing! Luckily it was not in a deep gash but a small surface scratch i got while "Boogy" boarding on my senior trip. It got swollen about the size of a golf ball, they lanced it and sent me home, but one day later it doubled in size and they said i was within hours of loosing my leg and less than a day from loosing my life! My thoughts and prayers go out to this young woman and her family!!

    May 10, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. justlew

    I pray that she has a fully recovery and go on to live a full life!! amen

    May 10, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      That's nice, and I'm sure the family appreciates the sentiment. However, you should try doing something that actually matters of you really care about it. The next time you elect your state senator find out if they are interested in regulating the use of antibiotics such as Cipro in the farming industry in your state, so we don't produce more super bacteria.

      May 10, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dodd, T

    A home-made zip line? Really? Anyways, I wish this young woman a speedy recovery.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  13. palintwit

    I predict that someday soon the Sarah Palin family trailer will become as big a vacation destination as Graceland. It will be called Sarahland. Baggers and birthers from the four corners of the bible belt will make the pilgrimage, gladly paying $25, $35, or more for the chance to tour Sarah Palin's trailer and to go out back and see the actual outhouse where she took her morning dump.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. saywhat

    Tragic & scary. I pray for the girl to survive in health.

    May 10, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tannim

    Collodial silver taken topically and internally kills MRSA. But most doctors are ignorant to downright derisive to CAM, even though most of it predates the allopathy they're trained in.

    As for the silver, yes, if taken wrong it can turn one permanently gray/blue in the skin, which is why it's important to read the directions and follow them. But it beats being dead or losing limbs.

    May 10, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • ncmd

      Docs use silvadene (silver based creme) for burns and superficial wounds all the time. Silver won't work for deep infections in the muscle or fat though. I recommend you stick to your day job or apply to medical school.

      May 10, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
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