Flesh-Eating Bacteria Kills Harnett County Woman
Posted March 7, 2006 6:32 a.m. EST
BUNN, N.C. — Health officials are looking into the case of a 44-year-old Harnett County woman killed by flesh-eating bacteria.
Sharon Bishop was a certified nursing assistant who worked nights at Oak Hill Assisted Living Home in Angier. According to investigators, she jammed her thumb in a wheelchair. By the next day, her entire hand was swollen.
Bishop went to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn, where doctors gave her medicine and ice packs and sent her home. But that didn't solve the problem. The swelling spread, and her entire arm puffed up. She went back to the hospital, got more medications and more ice packs. But things got even worse, and Bishop went to Dr. Abraham Oudeh for help.
"She was in pretty bad shape," said Oudeh. "She was lethargic, she barely (could) talk, she had fever, she had swelling."
Oudeh knew exactly what was wrong.
"What we call the 'eating flesh bacteria', which is 'Group A' strep necrotizing," he said.
Oudeh also knew how much danger she was in.
"There is no way you can stop it, especially when the disease has spread so fast," he said.
Oudeh sent her back to Betsy Johnson, where she was airlifted to UNC Hospitals. Doctors took extreme measures to save her life, amputating her arm and areas around it. But it was too late.
Her neighbors, who knew her as "Miss Sharon," can't believe what's happened.
"She was very friendly, very nice," said neighbor Adaisha Harris.
The bacterium that causes the flesh-eating condition is the same one that causes strep throat, but it's more aggressive. Each year in the United States, there are 10 million strep infections. Only about 1,000 develop into the flesh-eating condition. According to Centers for Disease Control, it's fatal about 20 percent of the time.