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. Bluejeans

    Is it a disease or a bacteria strain?

    May 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladyofargonne

      It's bacteria that is everywhere just waiting for the opportunity to get under the skin. I got MRSA through a spider bite and almost died.

      May 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronda Cluff

      MRSA doesn't typically enter the body through a spider bite, but an infection with the bacteria is often first diagnosed as a spider bite in error.

      May 11, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • ThatDCGuy

      The spider didn't give you MRSA, your poor care of the wound did.

      May 11, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • CRIS

      spiders dont carry MRSA, however once that bite becomes infected ( cellulitis ) MRSA can set in. AGAIN we all have MRSA in our system. I work on an ambulance and just had to mandatory take disease infection control course, WE ALL HAVE MRSA

      May 11, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • nolongerarepublican

      A common bacteria.

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

      Necrotizing fasciitis is the disease name. Aeromonas hydrophila is the causative agent.

      May 11, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. carrollboy

    wow......... this is a mile from me and did
    nt hear about it.

    May 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Spock500

    Aeromonas hydrophila, MRSA, and Vibrio vulnificus are, sadly, three of the most deadliest soft tissue infections that clinical medicine has ever encountered. I've been directly and indirectly involved in the treatment of all three of these types of skin infections, and I can tell you there really is no defense for these infections. The old and the young. The immunocompetent and immunocompromised. The healthy or not. ANYone can be struck by this. And once a person is an unfortunate victim, these infections take off like a match to kerosene, and it takes a herculean medical and surgical response to save that person's life. 🙁

    May 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sampa

      You really scared me.
      Is there a way to avoid this things?
      The report is not really clear on how the bacteria came into her skin. What do you think happened?

      May 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dankanu

    I got infected 10 years ago and left me with scars around the hips due to surgery, luckily no limbs amputated. I was the lucky 30% (other 30% gets amputated, 30% die).Timing is very important as the bacteria spreads via the bloodstream. Lessons learned is seek medical help asap with open wounds or cuts, that how the bug gets in.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaShawn

      I've been following this story because she's from my hometown, though I don't know her family. According to other sources, she had gone to the hospital, gotten 22 staples and was sent home and told to take tylenol for pain. I think the zip line is what cut her leg. She went back to the hospital a day or two later and complaining of excruciating pain and the gave her narcotic pain meds and sent her home. I think she went back a couple more times before they diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis and did a surgery before transferring her to Augusta Burn Center. It seems as though they would have thought to put her on a strong course of antibiotics from the initial visit being that a zipline could have all kinds of bacteria on it. This maybe could have been prevented or lessened had the ER staff treated her properly. This story breaks my heat, such a bright future, dimmed!!

      May 11, 2012 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. Weezy

    She might have hesitated because she does not have health care insurance. This is why we need Obama Care.

    May 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debba

      You are so correct! We need Obama care so that all of us 'little' people have affordable health care, not just the rich. When I was out of work, I went to my own doctor for a 30 min. check up & it cost $300. Imagine if I had cancer. Health issues should not make a person spend their entire life savings to keep alive. Most bankruptcy come from not being able to pay hospital bills.

      May 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • david dentzel

      Obama care has zero impact on this person and medical care. You go to the hospital with zero Obama care you get treatment ASAP. Obama care is more about pre-existing medical and government mandate to have healthcare, hopefully cheaper then it is now but i doubt it will be cheaper.....!

      May 10, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      She MIGHT have hesitated because she was wondering about the billions that were going to be wasted in Obamacare. That's why we DON'T need Obamacare.

      A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

      May 11, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. nolongerarepublican

    Don't lose sleep over this "terror story". This bacteria was first discovered almost 50 years ago.
    I am not blaming the girl or saying anything about her, I just think the CNN story is media fear mongering manure.
    It's not a "flesh eating bacteria" is is a severe infection, like staph.
    There are a thousand killer strains of bacteria in our lives around us, most people will never have anything happen to them. Cut the hype CNN.
    "In humans, the bacterium is transmitted through fecal-oral transmission, contact with contaminated water, food, soil, feces, and ingestion of contaminated fish or reptiles (1). The most common way of catching the bacterium is through an open wound in contaminated water. "

    May 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • O my science

      There are two main mechanisms of pathogenecity in the severe soft tissue infections caused by Aeromonas species . First, Aeromonas species can produce highly toxic exotoxins, which may lead to extensive myonecrosis as well as necrotizing fasciitis. Several tissue factors can be released from pathological process of necrosis, and further contribute to disturbance of circulation, significant edema, or disseminated intravascular coagulation.

      May 11, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. TODAY

    horrible story...I hope she will not die

    May 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Casper

    C'mon baby, fight!!! fight!! My prayers are with you!!

    May 11, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. AgrippaMT

    Well, she's still obviously a prime candidate for another Darwin award.

    May 11, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. PhilG.

    There is a terrible backstory to this.

    Today,in most hospitals,this bacteria can be found.

    It is possible that she was fine as far as infection before she got to the hospital but when her leg was washed out, a contaminated insturment was used or some other form of transitory bacterium movenment was inadvertantly done and now she is for all intents a dead person.

    She has contracted a very powerful strain of this infection to have it at all the ends of her extremities so fast.

    Her prognosis is not good at all.

    Hospitals cannot cut corners on sanitation of their triage environments and expect people to not get sick when they are treated there.

    May 11, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. virgo

    This is scary. place your saliva immediately on any open wounds until you get hold of alcohol or medication.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cortanis

    This is just tragic. I almost think that it would be more humane to let her choose to die under sidation than have to go the rest of her life dependant on others.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. BetaHemolytic Strep

    I am a healthy 56 year old health care professional who contracted 'flesh eating disease' in my left lower leg two years ago. After a heart attack, renal, liver and respiratory failure requiring ventilation I underwent eight surgeries to debride the area and two skin grafts. I still have my leg but won't be winning any beauty contests that's for sure. Had I waited another 12 hours I would have lost my leg and likely died. I thank God and some excellent doctors and nurses for my life and limb. I have to wonder whether I would still be here if I had to weight cost of health care against recovery. So glad I'm a Canadian; can't comprehend why folks in the U.S. oppose universal health care.

    May 11, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
    • EJ

      I always wonder that myself! I know the taxes are higher due to the health care system here in Canada but the benefit far outweighs the cost. No family should have to weigh the cost over helping their loved ones.

      May 11, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Lilbit

      I don't believe that most people in the US are against having universal health care. Unfortunately Obama Care is not the same thing as universal health care and Americans with an ounce of intelligence know that. Obama Care will only lead to higher health cost to an individual, higher insurance premiums and a bigger profit for insurance companies.

      May 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mary

    Hospitals are the worst place for picking up this kind of infection.. So if she went to the hospital for treatment after the fall thats probably where it infection was picked up..

    May 11, 2012 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Nick Bruiser

    That's insane.

    May 11, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
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