Monday, May 21, 2012

Injury made normal river bacteria hazardous

How could something in Georgia's Little Tallapoosa River have made Aimee Copeland so sick? Atlanta's 11 Alive News took a water sample of the river to Emory's Center for Global Safe Water to test for Aeromonas Hydrophilia, the bacteria that gave the 24-year-old from Snellville necrotizing fasciitis, a vicious, flesh-eating infection. (See video, above.)

The Emory analysis showed that a tablespoon of the river water contains about 140 cells of aeromonas, which is not an unusual amount to find in any untreated lake or river water. Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare disease, and aeromonas bacteria normally do not pose a risk, unless you have a deep cut or traumatic wound.

"The water and the bacteria get forced into the really deep tissue and then it's difficult to get them back out when you clean," says Amy Kirby, a research assistant professor in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health.

Copeland remains in critical condition and faces multiple amputations, following an initial amputation of her left leg after a zip line broke and she fell into the river. Read more at

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