Woman Contracted Flesh-Eating Virus From Hotel and Dies After Doctors Dismiss Her

A woman went on an annual trip to Florida with her family, but the mother and grandmother brought home an unwanted souvenir. Doctors found she had a flesh-eating virus, but continued to send her home with antibiotics and recommended she use a heating pad for the pain.

She passed away on Saturday, leaving her family angry and confused.

Carol Martin, a 50-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven, was staying at a Days Inn in Tampa with her family. The family goes to the area every year to enjoy the races in St. Petersburg.

Martin took a dip in the hotel hot tub one day, and by the time the family returned home to Indiana, she found a sore on her buttock.

The sore, about the size of a nickel, looked like a blemish. She ignored it at first, but the pain got worse. Martin went to the doctor to have it examined.

The doctor sent her home, telling her to use a heating pad. He refused to send her for further tests. This turned out to be a terrible mistake, because the sore continued to grow.

Once again, Martin sought help. She went to the doctor again to complain, but again she was sent home, told it was nothing.

By April, Martin had searing pain all over her body. She went to the hospital, where this time she was admitted. Doctors found the grandmother had necrotizing fasciitis, a deadly, flesh-eating bacterium that she probably caught in the hot tub.

Martin spent two weeks in the hospital in intensive care and underwent two major surgeries. Doctors sent her home with antibiotics and instructions to use a heating pad. It was too late. They sent her home, where she died the next day.

"She made me lunch, I kissed her goodbye to go to work. I come home early in the morning and found her passed away," said her husband, Richard Martin.

An autopsy is being performed on the body to determine the cause of death, but the coroner seems sure the results will point to the bacteria. "My thing is, nobody else got it, the flesh-eating bacteria. She was the only one that got in the hot tub," the coroner told the Sun Sentinel.

The Centers for Disease Control says some 600 to 1200 people in the U.S. each year are infected with necrotizing fasciitis. It can be caused by various bacteria, including group A Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E-coli). It’s not an airborne disease, and it's not contagious.

However, if the bacteria comes into contact with a skin abrasion, a person can become infected. Warm water, such as found in a hot tub, can be a breeding ground for such bacteria.

The bacteria spreads quickly, usually starting as red or purple discoloration and swelling that can spread within hours of infection. The infected area may then produce ulcers or blisters, and a patient may suffer from fatigue, chills, fever and vomiting.

Because it comes on so quickly, people often dismiss it as a common flu and doctors may misdiagnose the disease.

It destroys the tissue in skin and muscles, and the subcutaneous tissue. People who believe they have a suspicious-looking mark should get it checked out. Flesh-eating bacteria, if not treated promptly, can become extremely serious, and even deadly.

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: WMUR, WFLA

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