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. Fiona

    Hey, Marie, you need to do some more Googling, sweetpea. There are cases of AH causing wound infection when lacerations had been in contact with mud. There's an interesting case from Australia where a bunch of mud footballers played in a paddock that had been flooded with river water.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Parkerman

    Ugly tattoo Jamie, Keep your skin clean, believe me you will regret it later in life. I feel so sorry for Aimee, what a tradegy. I hope she and her family can survive this ordeal.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • DenverMan

      Why don't you mind your own business Parkerman and provide constructive comments you d!ck. You are what is wrong with socieity. People like you are disgusting.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whyspurr

      Judgmental much?

      And it's spelled tragedy.

      Just sayin...

      May 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sara

      I'm sure she really appreciates your advice.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      The girl is fighting for her life, and the only thing you can think of is a tattoo you think is ugly? You are one pathetic human being, Parkerman. Let's hope that the day you find yourself in big trouble, there are not others like you around you. Shame on you.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jake1717

    SixDegrees- What makes you so sure that person doesn't know what they are talking about? The problem, in this case, is that those treatments are useless once the bacterium have entered the blood stream. It is common practice for a wound to be flushed by a physician. However the flushing agent is not always effective in disinfecting certain bacterium or viruses.

    May 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. veteran

    I as i hope everbody say prayers for aimee and her family,for those of us that does believe in god knows he works miracles,along with modern medicene

    May 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • clubschadenfreude

      and funny how there are no miracles without modern medicine. I know, you'll claim that god is behind modern medincine but golly, he must have just hated all of those people who had similar infections and amputations before he deigned to "give" modern medical techniques to mankind. what an excuse, sheesh.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Talendria

    The only thing to take away from this article is that life is fragile and precious. I hope the Copelands get to keep their daughter.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      and a homemade zip line is not a wise idea.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. casper78

    Praying for her. God still works Miracles!!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • clubschadenfreude

      Really? This girl really needs one so why not right now? Or right after she had to be resusitated? Or maybe a miracle to have not her gotten hurt at all? And how about all of those kids who are starving and who have been hacked at by machetes in the various countries of Africa? Where are these magical miracles for them? What's your excuse *this* time?

      May 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marjee123

    My 56 year old son is extremely lucky. He contacted this bacteria on the upper part of his right leg. The doctors were very pro-active and stopped the spread. The had to graft skin off other parts of his body and he was transferred to the veterans hospital for re-habilitation. In all it took almost six months to get him back to work. He was lucky that he went to the doctor right away and the diagnosed it and took action. When his leg had pains he didn't wait thank goodness.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 688guy

    This happened to me 7 years ago, but I was bitten by a stray kitten at work when I tried to catch it. With me, the bite was like a needle and the virus went thru my blood straight to my lungs. I was in a coma within 48 hours and wasn't expected to live, in fact two people had it while I was in the MICU, but they didn't make it out. After 5 weeks in the coma, they brought me out to operate on my lungs, pulled one out thru my back and stuffed it back in. I was in the hospital for 3 months and they ended up doing what they called a "muscle flap" where they sliced my stomach muscle in half, pulled it up over my lung and removed a rib to make room for it. It was needed because the holes wouldn't heal up on their own after weeks of pouring this junk in thru the chest tube (I had 13 of them!), but I made it and I hope this poor girl does too!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loswow

      Aeromonas hydrophila is not a virus...It is a gram neagtive bacteria.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mimi


      May 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. clubschadenfreude

    What a shame. I hope modern medicine can help her as it has so many. But if any theists would like to try, I'm sure a healing right in front of television cameras would be really appreciated by everyone.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • VekTorVik

      Troll much?

      I know someone who lost a leg to the same thing, flesh eating bacteria. It was pretty scary for awhile. The doctors didn't give her much of a chance to live. For my own benefit I would like to think my prayers contributed to her recovery.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      If God chose to heal this person on camera, you would be the first to disavow your very eyes. Your own pride has blinded you.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jikfive

    Anyone else smell a law that will be developed outlawing homemade zip lines? I cringe when I hear:

    "No one should ever have to go through this." Translation: "My friend is an adult and made an adult decision that ended with unfortunate consequences. Because of the sensationally of the outcome, we will attempt to make home made zip lines illegal and treat you like children because we can't trust you enough to make decisions for yourself."

    Allow the baby proofing of America to continue.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      I feel kind of like it wasn't an "adult" decision to make a homemade zip line...

      May 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Where do people come up with their ridiculous comments when a girl is very sick and needs help? CNN should delete any comments that don't stay positive ahd hopeful.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. texansRus

    we dint have bacteria until Obama!

    May 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      Hilarious comment.

      I lived in TX for a bit and I remember taking note that people actually said DINT ... just like that. Sometimes they also said dinnunt. I dinnunt do it for swear.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freedie Apples


    Let me start by saying that playing on a homemade zip line is a stupid thing to do. However, there are many benefits to losing your right leg.

    1) For the rest of your life, socks are buy one get one free.
    2) You will be a better dancer now that you only have one left foot.
    3) Everyone will know which "snow angel" is yours.
    4) Extra storage space under your desk.

    Freddie Apples

    May 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barney Jeevers

      BMI will always be lower (all things being equal)

      May 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russell

      Ha-ha-ha, you're soooo funny Freedie Apples. I'm wondering if the parents who will most likely lose their daughter are laughing as much as you are.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Russell

    A "homemade" zip line? The zip line "broke"? The zip lines I've been on were 1) professionally installed and inspected, 2) made of strong cable unlikely to break. Was this done with rope? How can people be so stupid and careless with their safety and that of others?

    May 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freddie Apples

      What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs on a pile of leaves?


      May 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      Maybe it rusted? Kids do stuff to have fun. We can't control everything in life. Living is risky.

      Besides, what difference does it make now? The poor girl was just unlucky that she was the one on it when it broke. I hope she survives and is able to make peace with the loss of limbs.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Larry

    She probably had compromised immune system. This bug is not very dangerous to most people. Having said that, open laceration + dirt = you need to go get your tetanus shots anyway, so if she was smart about it, she'd be diagnosed early and survived.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. doctors in the house

    Rare Earth's – Forbidden Cures – Buy it has intel about keeping your body in synch so this doesn't happen to you!

    May 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Forbidden because they were never tested, don't work, and may cause additional harm. But hey, knock yourself out.

      May 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      I tend to agree that modern medicine is best, but I have to admit I was surprised to learn that after several years of acupuncture, detox, and herbal tea drinking that my sister was able to overcome graves disease without having her thyroid removed/destroyed. It now functions normally without medication – supposedly she was exposed to metals in a job she once had and after getting them out of her system it began to function normally. Who knows?

      May 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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