Health

Woman Contracts Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Insect Bite

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Deborah Charette was gardening at her home in Ontario, Canada, when she was bitten by a black fly. Although bites from black flies normally don’t cause any harm, Charette began feeling weak over the next few days.

Then she woke up in the hospital.

"I remember opening my eyes and wondering, 'Where am I?'” Charette told CBC News.

She had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria, through the fly bite and had to undergo a mastectomy to save her life.

"They called my husband -- he was at home -- they called him and said if they didn't go in and try to operate on me that I wasn't going to be alive in the morning," Charette said.

Although the disease wasn’t caused by the bug bite, it can be contracted through a break in the skin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lisa Schell, an official with the Sudbury and District Health Unit, said Charette’s case was rare.

"It's how an individual actually reacts to that bacteria being introduced into their body that may develop into a necrotizing fasciitis," she said. "Sometimes when an individual scratches that bug bite, the protective coating on top of that bug bite comes off ... [and] there is a chance of infection.”

Charette hopes her story can help others, especially because the disease moves so quickly.

"I'm lucky because I didn't die, so I feel it necessary to warn other people about the disease, even though it's extremely rare," she said.

Sources: CBC News, CDC / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons