The bacteria that infected Copeland
Whether she was hiking in the woods, growing organic vegetables or working on her master's degree in psychology, Aimee Copeland embraced her passions with Cheap Christian Louboutin determination and a constant smile that made friends wonder if she ever had bad days. Now the 24-year-old Georgia graduate student is fighting to survive a flesh-eating bacterial infection that forced doctors to amputate most of her left leg. They warned she would likely lose her other foot and both hands. Copeland contracted the rare infection, called necrotizing fasciitis, within a few days after suffering a deep cut May 1 when she fell from a broken zip line during an outdoor excursion. Her parents and sister remain at her side after a week at an Augusta hospital, while friends 200 miles away at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton are holding vigils and organizing blood drives while praying for Copeland to recover. "When she put her mind to a project, there was no letting go. She was relentless until it was completed," said Richard LaFleur, a fellow graduate student who enlisted Copeland to help recruit for the psychology department. "I don't expect anything less at this point because she's fighting for her life. If anyone will pull through this, it will be Aimee." Copeland had just finished her second year of graduate school and was planning to soon begin work on her thesis when she was injured. It happened on a kayaking trip with friends when she tried to cross the Little Tallapoosa River on a homemade zip line. The line broke and Copeland Christian Louboutin Shoes Sale fell onto the rocks below, suffering a nasty gash in her leg. Doctors at the local emergency room closed the wound with nearly two dozen staples, but it became infected within a few days. On May 4 she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and flown to Augusta for treatment by specialists. Infections by so-called flesh-eating bacteria are rare but sometimes can run rampant after even minor cuts or scratches. The bacteria enter the body, quickly reproduce and give off toxins that cut off blood flow to parts of the body. The affliction can destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue. Affected areas sometimes have to be surgically removed to save a patient's life. The bacteria that infected Copeland, a bug called Aeromonas hydrophila, is found in warm and brackish waters. Many people exposed to these bacteria don't get sick and when illnesses do occur, it's often diarrhea from swallowing bacteria in the water. Flesh-eating Aeromonas cases are considered extremely rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not keep statistics, and only a handful of infections have been reported in medical journals over the past few decades. Group A streptococcus is the type of bacteria usually blamed in flesh-eating cases, and most doctors often aren't looking for Aeromonas, said Amy Horneman, a microbiologist at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. "It's the Rodney Dangerfield of pathogens," said Horneman, referring to the late comedian who declared he couldn't get respect." But "when a traumatic water infection Christian Louboutin Heels occurs, that's the first organism you should think of."