Teen nearly loses foot to flesh-eating bacteria after canoe trip on Little Miami River

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 11, 2017

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio -- Kayley Coletta said she's grateful to be standing again on both feet.

She nearly lost one of them to an infection after she went canoeing on the Little Miami River last month.

"The doctor said if we had waited 24 more hours, she would not be here today. It's scary -- it moves that quick," mom Kathy Coletta said.

Kayley had a scab on her foot before the canoe trip, so her mother said she covered it with waterproof bandage. Three days later, she got a fever and saw the scab had turned black.

The wound had become infected with flesh-eating bacteria.

The bacteria usually come from fresh water but may already be on a person's skin, Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum said. If not treated quickly, he said a patient can lose a limb.

In extreme cases, a person can die.

"If the infection is, you know, serious, some people get very, very sick. They develop, you know, organ failure," Fichtenbaum said.

Kayley spent eight days at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, where she had three surgeries. She still needs to have a skin graft.

"They said that there was chance that if we didn't control it, it could've went to my bloodstream, so I'm glad that it didn't," she said.

Fichtenbaum's advice: Any time you get a cut, wash it immediately with an antiseptic. Cover any open sores with a waterproof bandage if you plan on being in the water. He said properly treated swimming pools aren't a risk.

"Make sure that you're cautious, and make sure you do your research and make sure you check yourself," Kaylee said.