Fourth Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Case Confirmed in Georgia, Possible Fifth

The rare but terrifying disease has infected a fourth victim in Georgia, doctors say, while another is suspected in Pennsylvania.

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UPDATE:  Two new cases of necrotizing fasciitis, a potentially deadly flesh-eating bacterial infection, have been confirmed in Georgia, while another case is suspected in Allegheny County, Penn., as media fervor focuses attention on the rare and highly dangerous disease.

Paul Bales had his leg amputated Thursday, after flesh-eating bacteria infected a cut on his leg. He suffered the cut as he was removing a section of dock on Lake Sinclair, in Milledgeville, Georgia. Bales bandaged the cut, but did not seek medical attention until May 5. A week later, he was transferred to the Medical Center of Central Georgia. Similar circumstances are what sent another Georgia man to the hospital. 

Bobby Vaughn, a 33-year-old landscaper from Catersville, Georgia, fell ill after getting what he called a “very small cut on his leg” while cutting weeds. Now it seems that small cut is behind Vaughn’s May 4 visit to the same hospital where college student Aimee Copleland was treated for necrotizing fasciitis just weeks ago — and  where Vaughn was confirmed as the third case of flesh-eating bacteria in Georgia, according to the Daily Mail.

Surgeons at Doctors Hospital in Augusta are now in the process of rebuilding Vaughn’s groin after removing two pounds of tissue in attempt to fight the disease. He has now undergone six surgeries and faces more in the future.

When the cut first swelled, Vaughn went to a hospital in Cartersville where he was given antibiotics. Doctors wanted him to stay for observation but Vaughn refused and returned home. When the swollen cut grew from the size of a peanut to the size of a grapefruit, Vaughn went back to the hospital where he was rushed to surgery.

“They have to rebuild my groin area, but I’m feeling much better now,” Vaughn told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

(MORE: Necrotizing Fasciitis: The Flesh-Eating Disease One Georgia Grad Student Is Fighting)

Barclay Bishop, spokeswoman for Doctors Hospital, told the Daily Mail that the hospital sees about 50 cases of the flesh-eating bacteria, called necatoriasis fasciitis, each year.

It is highly unlikely that the three widely publicized cases, including those of Copeland  and another high-profile victim, new mother Lana Kuykendall, are related to each other.

Meanwhile, doctors are waiting to hear the results from tests done on a man hospitalized in Allegheny County also presumed to fallen victim to a flesh-eating bacterial infection, according to a CBS News affiliate in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Bruce Dixon, Allegheny County Health Department Director, told  KDKA news that about a dozen infections surface in the county each year. The bacterium is a common strain “that you and I come in contact with every day and don’t get ill from.”

The patient now in the intensive care unit at the Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pittsburgh was partaking in some sort of outdoor activity when his leg was injured.