Conditions

13-Year-Old Girl May Lose Hand After Cutting It on Fish Tank

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

A California teen may lose her hand after cutting it on a fish tank and contracting a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection.

Five years ago, Hannele Cox, 13, dipped her hand in a freshwater fish tank, and cut it when she pulled it out. The cut began oozing, and Hannele went on a course of antibiotics. They didn't work. A skin specialist then diagnosed Hannele with Mycobacterium marinum, or fish tank granuloma. The extremely rare bacteria causes lesions on skin and eats away at bones and tissue. It's related to tuberculosis.

Hannele has endured five years of painful treatments, some which have made her sick, but the Mycobacterium marinum hasn't died: in fact, it's now resistant to drugs. If it spreads further, she could face amputation surgery.

Hannele loved sports: since her injury, she's had to quit gymnastics and volleyball. She faces another surgery soon - her third since the injury - in Denver, Colorado, in which specialists will remove dead tissue and examine the extent of her infection. The Denver specialists Hannele will see are some of the only doctors who have successfully treated Mycobacterium marinum.

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"I am afraid of losing my hand," Hannele told California TV station KTLA. "I'm afraid of the things that I'm not going to be able to do when I grow older."

"I haven't really accepted it,' Hannele's mother said of the possibility Hannele will need her hand amputated. "I haven't accepted now that this is it. I am still fighting."