Who Is Aimee Copland And Why Is Everyone Suddenly Even More Freaked Out About Flesh-Eating Bacteria Than Usual?

Illustration for article titled Who Is Aimee Copland And Why Is Everyone Suddenly Even More Freaked Out About Flesh-Eating Bacteria Than Usual?

There is a reason that "flesh-eating bacteria" is currently #5 on Google Trends right now (sandwiched between "josh hamilton" and "gcb," for which I cannot say the same), but it might scare you enough to never, ever go near a lake again, ever.


Within a week of cutting her calf in a zip-lining accident on vacation in Carrollton, Georgia, a 24-year-old University of West Georgia graduate student named Aimee Copland has lost her left leg to a bacterial infection known as necrotizing fasciitis and may lose her other leg as well as both her hands. She is conscious, neurologically sound, and her lungs are improving, but she remains in critical condition and is completely reliant on a ventilator.

Doctors believe the bacteria that infected Copland resided in a nearby Carrollton freshwater lake called Little Tallapoosa. Although the infection is extremely rare, its mortality rates are upward of 60% according to a 2010 report. People are significantly more susceptible if their immune system is currently weaker than normal. Copland's friends and family are rallying for her improvement with a blood drive fundraiser and a Facebook page.

'Aimee Copeland, 24-year-old with necrotizing fasciitis, remains in critical condition' [CBS News]
'Flesh-Eating Bacteria, Infection That Claimed Aimee Copeland's Foot, Explained' [HuffPo]



One thing that really sticks out in Aimee's story (as well as others I've seen in the news) is this:

She was sent away several times from her family doctor and an emergency room doctor with painkillers. To me, it sounds like that cost her a week or so of time that she could have been diagnosed with and treated for necrotizing fascitiis.

I think this drives home the idea that, sadly, you have to be your own advocate at the doctor's office or hospital. If you're having disproportionate pain from a cut or you just have a gut feeling something is wrong, sometimes you have to get a second opinion. We know our bodies best and when something is wrong (or conversely when something ISN'T wrong) it's hard to get doctors to listen. Clearly, this sort of infection is rare, but the doctors-not-listening thing isn't. I'm not anti-medicine or anti-doctor. Far from it, but it frustrates the hell out of me that her intense pain and fever from a cut wasn't immediately seen as a red flag to those she sought help from.

I really hope she can survive this, but what a horrible price she's already had to pay.