Protect yourself from the flesh eating bacteria

6:36 PM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
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Aimee Copeland

ATLANTA -- Aimee Copeland's fight for life continues to be one of the most common Internet searches in our area. But on Thursday, we noticed a shift. People wanted to know not just about her condition, but also about the illness itself.

That's why friends and family of Aimee Copeland and Lana Kuykendall say they have openly shared their experiences with the flesh eating bacteria.  They want people to know the early warning signs.

RELATED | Friends, strangers rally to help Aimee Copeland

It's alarming to some to hear of two confirmed cases in one week.  Copeland came into contact with the bacteria in a river in Carrollton.  Kuykendall after giving birth to her twins at Emory Midtown in Atlanta.  

NBC Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman says the two cases have nothing in common, except their end result.  "They really have nothing to do with each other, other than they both got infections, both of the bacteria they came down with secreted toxins that caused this sort of flesh eating bacteria," said Snyderman.

Snyderman says there are a number of bacteria that can lead to necrotitis faciitis, so it's not necessarily the bacteria but the rare cases when they start to release a toxin that poses the risk. Snyderman says you'll know if it happens, because with the toxin, comes pain.

"If in the first 24, 48 hours the wound gets red, tender, looks worse and most important become phenomenally painful and the pain is disproportionate to what the wound looks like, that's the time you get right back to the hospital," said Snyderman.

Friends of both Aimee and Lana remember them talking about just those symptoms.

"She said the spot on the back of her leg was hot and very painful. Red and purple," said Janelle Alier who talked with Kuykendall before her diagnosis.

Snyderman says that's why its so important, if you do get a cut or scratch to wash it with soap and water, put an antibiotic ointment on and cover the wound. Check it twice a day. If it gets red, tender or becomes extremely painful, get to a hospital.

If you would like to help raise blood for Aimee Copeland, the South Gwinnett Rotary Club has chartered a bus to go to Augusta on Friday, where Aimee is being treated. It will leave at 8am.  If you would like to go click here to register.

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