College Student Battles Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Zip Line Accident

A freak accident develops into a bizarre and life-threatening illness for one 24-year-old Georgia woman.

  • Share
  • Read Later

Aimee Copeland

The father of a hospitalized 24-year-old woman who contracted flesh-eating bacteria after a zip line accident described the ordeal as “the most horrific situation that a parent can possibly imagine.”

On May 1, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, University of West Georgia student Aimee Copeland suffered a leg laceration when the homemade zip line that she and her friends were using along the Little Tallapoosa River broke. She was hospitalized and then released.

(PHOTOS: Virus Hunter: The Scientist Preventing the Next Pandemic)

From then on–as documented by updates on a Facebook page that appears to be maintained by her family as well as a University of West Georgia student website monitoring her progress–Copeland’s health worsened considerably. In a post on Facebook, her father, Andy Copeland, explained that for days Aimee continued to experience pain and was eventually readmitted to a medical facility:

Upon arrival, the ER physician diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis in her damaged leg. The fasciitis had spread beyond the injured area to her hip and thigh. The surgeons advised me that they wanted to try to save her leg, but at this point saving her life took precedence. They removed all of the infected tissue and advised that she would have limited, if any use of her leg.

(MORE: Norovirus Outbreak: Why You Shouldn’t Keep Your Plastic Bag in the Bathroom)

The Journal-Constitution described Copeland’s condition as “a rare infection from a common bacteria.” Copeland had characterized his daughter’s condition as “bleak,” but on Thursday he gave an interview to saying she made “drastic improvements” but may still face more amputations:

“The bacteria that attacked her has basically shut her capillaries down,” Copeland explained. “So it appears that because of the combination of the bacteria and medication she’s taking, we’ll probably have to remove her hands from her wrist, as well as her foot.  It’s something we’ll have to get over, but it’s something we’re going to miss.”

The University of West Georgia student website has information on donating to “Aimee’s fund,” which says it will direct financial support to be “used for hospital and/or rehabilitation expenses.”