Christin Lipinski, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, was diagnosed with a flesh-eating disease caused by the bacterial infection Necrotizing fasciitis, which has now killed 30% of Christin’s body tissue.

On January 11, Christin visited the doctor, as she had been presenting some flu symptoms. There she received treatment for the supposed viral infection, influenza. But the pain only became worse, so Christin was taken to a Level 1 Trauma Hospital.

Influenza and flesh eating disease, Woman diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis, Flesh eating diseases symptoms, Influenza symptoms
The woman was initially diagnosed with influenza. Image credit: GoFundMe

Thirty percent of Christin’s body tissue had to be removed to save her life. She’s now on raising money with a GoFundMe campaign due to the high prices of the recovery surgery that aren’t covered by her health insurance. The campaign has a goal of 10.000$.

Confusing symptoms with common illnesses 

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention explain that the Necrotizing fasciitis can easily be confused with any other disease or injury because its symptoms are very common. The symptoms that their web page lists include fever, chills, fatigue, and vomiting, while some people show areas of swelling, blisters or spots on the skin; places where the bacteria will begin to kill the soft body tissue.

The CDC also claims that people with chronic health diseases are more likely to be infected with the Necrotizing Fasciitis since these weaken the body’s immune system. The primary issue with Christin’s case is that, even though she didn’t have a chronic disease, the flu had already weakened her immune system, making it easier for the bacteria to spread and develop.

This bacterial infection is thought to be rare, and the CDC remarks that it is not spread from one person to another. The organism claims that it could occur randomly, but the usual way of getting infected is by having a break on the skin which the bacteria can use as its way in, affecting the tissue that surrounds blood vessels, nerves, fat, and muscles.

It is recommended to visit a doctor right away if any of the symptoms listed above are spotted. Since it is a disease that spreads quickly, the chances of reducing the percentage of body tissue affected depend on the early diagnoses.

A moving story of strength 

Christin’s flu, turning out to be this rare bacterial infection, changed her life and her family’s as well. While they all thought it was just influenza, and then experienced the worsening of Christin’s health condition, her life started to be endangered. Having her immune system compromised and failing to obtain the needed medical assistance and treatment, the bacteria developed into the aggressive flesh-eating disease, leaving Christin with part of her body tissue dead.

Influenza and flesh eating disease, Woman diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis, Flesh eating diseases symptoms, Influenza symptoms
Christin’s family is asking for support to cover the woman’s medical bills. Image credit: GoFundMe

The family narrates her story on the GoFoundMe campaign “Care For Christin,” in which they explain the treatment Christin has received so far, and the one she will need:

“Within twelve hours Christin underwent two surgeries to remove the infected tissue in an effort to save her life… She is currently in critical yet stable condition as she undergoes further surgeries.”

Christin has a long way to go in front of her. She needs recovery surgeries, which include, according to the family, skin graft surgeries and physical treatment, even though the time that this whole process will take is still unknown.

The family feared at first for Christin’s life since studies suggest that up to 30% of the people die along the way of fighting this disease. Now they fear for something else. Although Christin has apparently had small improvements, they all fear she won’t be able to work again to keep supporting her children. She is a special education teacher, described as by her loved ones as a passionate woman.

The family finally explains:

“Christine has been in Intensive Care Unit for seven days and has now endured seven surgical procedures trying to stop the infection. She has remained fully sedated, intubated and on the maximum allowable amount of pain medication due to the daily surgeries and intense pain from the required wound care.”

Rising numbers worldwide

The CDC affirms that the Necrotizing Fasciitis is not the only flesh-eating bacteria that exists. Even though the cases are believed to be rare, and they don’t spread as a virus would do, some cases need to be drawn attention to, not only in the USA but worldwide.

In the US, according to USA Today, a woman died from a flesh-eating bacteria, contained in contaminated oysters she ate, known as Vibrio Vulnifucus. This bacteria is increasingly infecting people all over Florida, even killing up to 100 (Report released by the Florida Department of health).

Overseas, in Japan, over 500 people were infected with the Necrotizing Fasciitis, even leading some cases to death. The bacteria is also thought to be found in dirty water, leading the CDC to suggest to avoid swimming pools or hot tubs if the skin has an injury that hasn’t healed yet.

Source: Live Science