our everyday lives bacteria is constantly surrounding us, some of the bacterium that we encounter are beneficial to us but then there are the ones that are severely detrimental to our health. The way that they effect a persons body can differ from person to person. Many of the “microscopic foes” are very resilient and have a very fast reproduction rate. Not only do they reproduce quickly they sometimes seem to outsmart our immune system and not allow our bodies to fight the infection making it almost impossible to stop them. One thing that a lot if people rely on is the assistance of prescription drugs to get them better but even the drugs are not being effective and we can’t stop the pathogens from invading our personal places such as work, home, school, or anywhere. Even though modern medicine is advancing the pathogens could still get the get the best of us.
The scary thing is we never know when the next pandemic or epidemic is going to arise. All it needs is some ordinary microbe to swap genes with a deadly germ to produce a “super pathogen” and it could happen to anyone, anywhere, as it did to Jeannie Brown who is from “our neck of the woods.” Jeannie Brown was a hard working thirty- two year old woman from Canton North Carolina. She worked two jobs to make ends meet at home for her and her ten year old son. Jeannie was insecure about her recent weight gain and that caused her to get sucked into depression. Not only was she stressed and depressed she also had high blood pressure which she was taking medication for. Jeannie needed a break and she decided that she was going to take one and go to Myrtle Beach with one of her friends for a relaxing three day weekend.
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After they got settled in at the beach Jeannie changed into her bathing suit and it was then when she noticed an unfamiliar feeling in her neck and behind her left ear. She also said that she felt as if there was a knot in her neck. Jeannie then asked her friend if she noticed anything different. There were no visible signs that would make them come to the conclusion that anything significant was wrong with her. Not “overreacting” to the situation they came to the conclusion that Jeannie had probably slept funny the night before, so they continued with there day relaxing on the beach. When Jeannie woke up the next day the pain had not ceased it had become worst.
The knot moved to her shoulder and she felt discomfort and pain all over her body. She decided to leave the beach so that she could go home and get some rest and her complaining wouldn’t affect the rest of the people’s short vacation. The long drive back from the beach only made her feel worst. She was unaware of what was wrong with her but she hoped that it would just go away.
But it did just the opposite of that, when she woke up the next morning her shoulder was swollen, reddish purple all over. She did not want to call the doctor because she could not afford it but she did anyways. When she went to the doctor he told her that she probably pulled a muscle. Not long after this she began vomiting and her shoulder was having spasms. Jeannie still feeling horrible attempted to drive to work, pulling over on the side of the road several times so that she could vomit. When she arrived at her work she looked motionless, drenched and pasty.
Her co-workers convinced her to see the doctor again and this time she diagnosed her with ” deep sunburn” and he gave her an anti-inflammatory to reduce to swelling. The following day the pain she was experiencing was very sever and she was continuing to vomit, she thought she was dying so she called a friend who came over. Jeannie was now very short of breath, her eyes were glassy, a rusty-brown colored blood was spewing from her mouth, her chest was black, her stomach, back and thighs were purple, but the bottoms of her feet were as white and white could be. When her friend came in she saw that Jeannie was helpless and need help. She wanted Jeannie to call an ambulance but she tried to resist until her friend called Jeannie’s mother and made her call. Her heart was beating irregularly, “it was like her heart was beating frantically to try to pump more blood but didn’t have the strength to push it.” Jeannie’s circulatory system was crashing and no one knew why.
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They gave her some fluids and placed her in the ICU where they sedated her. When they got the blood results back it showed that her blood was turning into acid and the pH level shrunk from its typical level. This was a sign that toxins from a rampant infection had taken over her whole body. The blood work also showed that her level of creatine was three times higher then normal which meant that her kidneys were weak and failing. She then went into cardiac arrest, her whole body was bruised, her neck had blisters, the whites of her eyes were blood red, she had no pulse and no blood circulation. By this point there was not much they could do even if they were able to bring her back then she would have been brain dead.
After her death her mother gave her approval for an autopsy to be done because they were still unsure what the exact cause of her death was. They later found out that it was “invasive Group A Streptococcus” or “flesh eating bacteria.” The infection destroyed her kidneys and her heart and the knots that she felt in her back was actually relics or flesh. The Acid that was in her blood stream caused her arteries and veins to leak and causing her blood pressure plummet which cut off circulation and that’s what made, her feet become white and her to go brain dead. The bacteria ate the skin on Jeannie’s upper back and caused the “vile strep” oozes. “Invasive Group A Streptococcus” is a variation of the same germ that most have come in contact with, which is the common step.
In Jeannie’s case her immune system was unable to extinguish the harmful pathogens in her body. One third of the people who contract this will die and why it is so deadly still remains a mystery. All we know is that it can invade your blood, muscles or lungs but why it “runs wild” inside some people and not other is a mystery. This was just one example of the can happen and unfortunately no one knows why or how this happens but hopefully we will be able to prevent it one day!
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