The woman caught the infection after falling into bacteria-infested floodwaters.
The woman caught the infection after falling into bacteria-infested floodwaters.
Photo by Brandon Navarro

Woman Dies From Flesh-Eating Infection After Falling in Floodwaters

After falling into floodwaters, a 77-year-old Kingwood woman died from necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection caused by exposure to bacteria, according to Roxanne Mena, a forensic investigator with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Nancy Reed is Harris County’s 36th death linked to Hurricane Harvey, according to the institute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls necrotizing fasciitis a rare but dangerous infection that can kill the body’s soft tissue – like skin, tendons, ligaments and fat – and even result in organ failure. It is caused by a strain of bacteria that can be easily treated, but can be deadly after entering the body through a wound or cut. Those infected may complain of pain or soreness similar to that of a pulled muscle, according to the CDC, with skin turning red or purple in the areas of swelling.

Reed is the second person infected by necrotizing fasciitis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. J.R. Atkins, a former firefighter and medic, became infected from a mosquito bite while rescuing his neighbors in Missouri City but survived.

Reed initially broke and cut her arm after a fall at her son’s home in Kingwood, according to the Houston Chronicle. She reported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands and was then moved to Memorial Hermann at the Texas Medical Center on September 12, and died three days later, according to Mena, the forensic investigator.

Reed was born in Pittsburgh in 1940 and was the CEO of LivingTributes.com, a collection of online memorials, according to her obituary. She is survived by her son, John Reed.

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