Post claiming flesh-eating bacteria from Myrtle Beach ocean water goes viral; no proof of link to local water

Published: Jul. 31, 2017 at 4:24 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2017 at 7:40 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The family of a Lumberton woman posted to social media that she is in stable condition after allegedly coming in contact with a flesh-eating bacteria while staying in Myrtle Beach.

The victim was airlifted to UNC Medical Center from Southeastern Hospital in Lumberton on Sunday morning in critical condition, according to messages WMBF News received from her family members.

According to her granddaughter, the family was vacationing in Myrtle Beach last week. The victim was on the balcony of their hotel when she lost her balance in the wind and cut her leg on a chair. The cut wasn't serious, so she did not seek medical attention. According to family, she spent time in the ocean between 23rd Avenue North and 27th Avenue North in the days after she was cut.

On Saturday, the day the family left Myrtle Beach to return to Lumberton, she discovered blisters on her leg. Later that night, the victim's leg was completely purple and covered in blisters. Her blood pressure was also extremely low. That's when her family decided to take her to Southeastern Hospital in Lumberton.

"If she stayed there, she had like a 10 percent chance of surviving, and they were to amputate her leg," the granddaughter said.

Sunday morning, the woman was airlifted to UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill and went into surgery an hour later.

Doctors told the family they were trying to save as much of the woman's leg as possible and trying to stop the bacteria from spreading to other parts of her body.

"The doctor came in and spoke with me at Chapel Hill. He said it was a flesh eating bacteria from her open wound," said the granddaughter.

The woman is currently sedated, but in stable condition.

There is no one flesh-eating bacteria. The condition called necrotizing fasciitis is usually caused by a variety of more than one organism in the skin.

"It has to be the perfect storm, you have to have all the factors coming together," said Dr. Dennis Rhoades. "Is there an open wound? Do they have diabetes or something else that's making their immune system weaker? How long were they in the water? How much of the bacteria got in there?"

DHEC has released the following statement about the incident: "DHEC is aware of the news reports of a potential case of necrotizing fasciitis in the Myrtle Beach area. It's important to note that this type of condition is not necessarily associated with exposure to natural waters like oceans, lakes or rivers or poor water quality."

The Myrtle Beach City Government Facebook page posted the following statement:

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea says the city is investigating, but that the family has not contacted the city directly.

Meanwhile, the original post made by the woman's daughter has been shared over 40,000 times and has over 26,000 comments.

The woman's granddaughter told WMBF News that the family does not wished to be identified at this time.

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