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Flesh-eating infection kills patient in Gillette
Campbell County Memorial Hospital is treating one patient for necrotizing fasciitis following the death of another. File photo

Flesh-eating infection kills patient in Gillette

Sep 27, 2012 - The Associated Press

GILLETTE -- One of two people being treated at a Gillette hospital for "flesh-eating bacteria" has died, the hospital's infectious disease specialist said Wednesday.

The person who died had close contact with the other patient before they arrived at Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Both had necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes described by laymen as flesh-eating bacteria, Dr. Chris Brown said.

A third patient had a serious Strep infection but, contrary to previous reports, did not have flesh-eating bacteria, Brown said.

He didn't disclose details and said privacy laws prevented him from releasing information that could identify the patients. All three cases occurred between mid-August and mid-September.

The cases of flesh-eating bacteria, an invasive Group A Streptococcus infection, originated in the community, not the hospital, Brown said. Health officials know of no additional cases, Brown said.

There are many types of strep infections. The serious cases typically pop up in isolated, sporadic clusters, Brown said. He described the risk of serious infection as low but says it can spread through close contact with infected patients, such as with immediate family members or caregivers.

None of the human cases was related to the case of a Great Dane that died of flesh-eating bacteria in Campbell County this month.

The dog's death was not related to three human cases reported by Campbell County Memorial Hospital, a veterinarian said.

It was not known how the 6-year-old Great Dane was infected, said Dr. Darren Lynde, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in Gillette. Animal cases of the infection known as necrotizing fasciitis are extremely rare.

"I've done this for 20 years, and never seen this particular situation and probably never will again," said Lynde, who helped treat the dog named Nikita. "Most cats and dogs just clear the infection on their own."

It's possible the potentially deadly, invasive Group A Streptococcus was on the dog's body or in dirt when a feral cat bit the dog, Lynde said. The bite may have allowed the bacteria to get into the dog's bloodstream.

Nikita's owner, Christine Williams, said she found her five dogs playing with the cat in her yard on Sept. 10. Nikita began to limp the next day.

"By that night, she could hardly walk on that foot," Williams said.

Williams took the dog to the animal center, where doctors were unable to save her.

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