Girl, 12, contracts deadly 'flesh-eating' disease after swimming at Florida beach

A 12-year-old girl who recently vacationed with her family in Destin, Fla., found herself fighting for her life shortly after returning home to Indiana.

Kylei Brown began complaining to her parents of leg pain towards the end of their June visit to the popular tourist destination, WXIN reports.

When her family arrived back home, Kylei’s symptoms intensified, beginning with swelling and redness in her right calf and progressing to a fever, her mother, Michelle Brown, told the station.

The concerned parent brought her daughter to a doctor, who urged them to go to an emergency room for treatment instead.

“When they told me we needed to go home and pack bags and get to (Riley Hospital for Children), my anxiety went from 0 to 110,” Brown said. “I knew something was wrong.”

Doctors initially thought Kylei might be suffering from a blood clot, but as her condition worsened, they reevaluated the diagnosis.

“Her blood pressure was just continuously dropping,” Brown said. “It was rough.”

Kylei was eventually diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis — a rare, life-threatening bacterial infection which is often referred to as a “flesh-eating” disease, as it quickly and aggressively kills the body’s soft tissue.

The disease has an extremely high mortality rate, and accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic administration and prompt surgery are extremely important in successful treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The bacteria can enter the body through even a tiny break in the skin, including cuts, scrapes, burns and insect bites.

Brown said her daughter merely scratched her toe on a skateboard days before visiting the beach, where she may have likely contracted the bacteria through seawater.

“It started from a scuff on her toe, a scrape on her toe, and it almost cost her her life,” Brown said.

Kylei was rushed into emergency surgery, where doctors removed the affected tissue, and has since been discharged from the hospital. She is still being treated at home with an I.V. bag of antibiotics and will soon begin therapy so she can walk again.

Her mother told WXIN she hopes her story will encourage others to quickly recognize the signs of the disease so they can seek prompt treatment.

“It’s hard for me to think about if I had waited one more day, or even a couple more hours,” Brown said. “We’re just very fortunate.”

Kylei’s ordeal comes just one week after an alarming report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggested a “flesh-eating” bacteria called vibrio vulnificus may be spreading to regions previously non-endemic to the microorganism due to unusually warm waters.