LifestyleModel loses a leg after being infected with the "flesh-eating" bacteria

Model loses a leg after being infected with the “flesh-eating” bacteria

At the beginning of 2023, the American model, Jennifer Barlow, shared images of her statuesque body on the paradisiacal islands of the Bahamas on her personal Instagram account. “Sweet with a bite of Caribbean rum cake,” was the suggestive message she included.

It was not until May of the same year that Barlow uploaded a heartbreaking snapshot to her social networks in which she appeared intubated in a hospital bed. Behind her had been the perfect aspect of that influencers who took care of every detail of his pose and the stage he stepped on.

The photo was accompanied by a message that read: “I didn’t post about the rare infection I was fighting because I wanted to focus solely on surviving… I needed space to fight and heal! Now that I’m stable I want to share my story about my near-death experiences along the way.”

As Barlow explained, on his trip he contracted a bacteria that caused him to lose his right leg. The first symptom was a kind of “tingling” or “bubbling” in his knee, which later progressed to intense pain. When he returned to his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, he went to the doctor and settled at home on crutches and prescribed painkillers.

Everything got worse as time went by. Her leg grew three times her size.

After further evaluations, the doctors revealed that he had been infected with a flesh-eating bacterium known as “Vibrio vulnificus” or “flesh-eater”. Barlow did not . because he went into a coma for 10 days and, upon awakening, the health personnel had to amputate his infected leg to prevent it from spreading.

In the message he sent to his followers on Instagram, he said: “I have survived by finding the magic of completely surrendering to God. And not to mention I couldn’t be here without my little brother who saved my life when I was dying on my kitchen floor!”

What is “flesh-eating” bacteria?

At least 26 cases of the “meat-eating” bacterium have been reported in the state of Florida, in the US, so far in 2023; five have been fatal. This is the carnivorous bacterium known as “Vibrio vulnificus” which, according to the State Department of Health, lives in seawater and has the ability to enter the human body through the bloodstream through injuries or cuts in the skin.

Flesh-eating bacteria are also found in raw or undercooked shellfish.

The CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) revealed that this bacteria could affect the elderly and people who have a compromised immune system; The most alarming thing is that the agency said that one in three people who become infected with said bacteria dies.

When contracting the bacteria, it is expected that with antibiotics the person will be cured in three days; however, the CDC assures that a smaller percentage will require going to intensive care rooms and, perhaps, amputation.

What are the symptoms?

According to the CDC, these could be some of the symptoms that occur after contracting the bacteria:

  • Watery or liquid diarrhea.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting and fever.

In case of bloodstream infections, the following may occur:

  • Fever.
  • Shaking chills.
  • Dangerously low blood pressure.
  • Skin lesions with blisters.

In case of wound infections, the following may occur:

  • Fever.
  • Redness.
  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Warmth sensation.
  • Discoloration and discharge from the wound.

How to avoid the spread of “flesh-eating” bacteria

Three of the main recommendations that health authorities have issued to avoid the spread of this bacteria are:

  • Wear sandals or water shoes, especially when rock climbing.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters.
  • Do not bathe in the sea with recent wounds or cuts on the skin.

According to official figures, in 2022, 177 deaths and 74 cases of the “flesh-eating” bacteria were recorded in Florida alone.

“Anytime you have a break in your skin and you’re in a marine environment, then theoretically you’re at risk,” Dr. Eric Shamas, an emergency physician at Bayfront Health St. told wfla. “It’s very important to note that these serious infections are very rare.”

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