Mom misdiagnosed with flu battles unsafe flesh-eating virus

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An Arizona woman who was initially diagnosed with the flu turned out to have a life-threating infection with "flesh-eating" bacteria, according to news reports.

On Jan. 11, Christin Lipinski was diagnosed with the flu and received treatment for the viral infection.

She immediately was rushed into the first of what would be at least seven surgeries, according to a GoFundMe page raising money for treatment and recovery costs not covered by insurance.

However, after experiencing increasingly worse pain, Lipinski was taken to a local trauma center and it was discovered that what began as a bacterial infection had developed into a highly aggressive form of necrotizing fasciitis - an extremely rare and destructive disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of five types of bacteria could have caused the infection: A Streptococcus, Clostridium, Klebsiella, Escherichia and Staphylococcus aureus.

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Lipinski underwent two surgeries to remove 30 percent of her tissue which had become infected due to the disease. Over 30% of her soft tissue had to be surgically removed.

Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin, and surrounding muscles and organs (fascia), the NHS explains.

Injury, cuts, and break in the skin are the most common ways that the necrotizing fasciitis bacteria can enter the body. Along with severe pain or soreness, people can develop fever, chills, fatigue, and vomiting, all of which might be associated with the flu. Among the major contributing factors to the mortality of patients infected with the bacteria include misdiagnosis, old age, and diabetes. The wounded skin may also become red or purple in color.

She is now in a critical condition but is expected to undergo future reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts. The disease has a fatality rate of about 27 percent, according to a 2008 study.

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Since 2010, there have been 600 to 1,200 reported cases of necrotizing fasciitis in the United States.

"The flu doesn't cause necrotising fasciitis", LoVecchio said.

Some people are asking whether the flu can somehow lead to the flesh-eating disease and doctors say no.

According to the CDC, the recommended treatment for necrotizing fasciitis is with antibiotics, but there are many cases in which surgery is necessary for the removal of dead tissue and to prevent the infection from spreading. It's believed she'll remain in the hospital for several months as a precaution. She was transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating necrotizing fasciitis, and she will need skin grafts and "extensive reconstructive surgeries" in order to recover, the page said.

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