Woman with Flesh-eating Disease Fights for Life

Aimee Copeland’s condition improves after contracting flesh-eating disease from zipline fall.

By SHARE

Georgia graduate student Aimee Copeland continues to fight for her life after contracting a flesh-eating disease from a zipline accident on the Little Tallapoosa River near the Georgia-Alabama border.

Copeland, 24, fell from the homeade zipline and cut her leg on rocks during a kayaking trip with friends on May 1. After closing the gash with 22 staples, doctors at a nearby hospital confirmed it had become infected with flesh-eating bacteria, dubbed "necrotizing fasciitis." They have since amputated most of her left leg and she'll eventually lose her right foot as well as both hands, according to the Associated Press.

Doctors say Copeland has held up surprisingly well since her transfer to a hospital in Augusta, Ga. Though she remains in critical condition, she will soon be able to breath without a ventilator and her parents say they have begun reading her lips.

The bacteria that caused the disease, Aeromonas hydrophila, is found in warm water and is considered common. Most people come away from exposure to the bacteria with an upset stomach and a case of diarrhea. But with Copeland, the germ carried flesh-eating bacteria that entered her leg wound and cut off blood flow.

Unfortunately, the more Copeland fights the infection, the less she remembers ­—the medication helping keep her alive impairs her memory. In a blog chronicling Aimee's recovery, her father acknowledges it could be a moment of 'horror and depression for Aimee' when she is finally well enough to fully grasps her condition.