- A Tennessee woman developed flu-like symptoms and swelling in her thumb after visiting a nail salon for a manicure.
- She contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria, which required immediate medical attention.
- The woman underwent multiple surgeries, but her thumb is still numb.
After visiting the nail salon for a manicure, Jayne Sharp started feeling ill. Her thumb swelled and started throbbing, and she also felt flu-like symptoms.
The Knoxville, Tennessee, mom recalls feeling a prick during the service, but didn’t think it was cause for concern per Nashville’s News Channel 5. Her daughter, who is a registered nurse, encouraged her to seek medical attention, so she went to the doctor. They noted her thumb’s swelling, and she returned home to monitor it. By the next morning, the swelling had traveled up to her elbow, and she was rushed to the emergency room.
“The doctors told us had I waited another hour it might not be a good situation,” Sharp told the TV station. “I think of the man in Florida was dead in 48 hours from flesh eating bacteria.” Sharp was diagnosed with a flesh-eating bacteria and underwent multiple surgeries. “I’m lucky to be alive,” Sharp told CBS News. Sharp and her hand have recovered, but her thumb is still numb months after the incident.
Skin injuries, like the prick Sharp felt during her service, are one of the primary ways the bacteria enters your bloodstream, Armen Arshakyan, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles, previously told Women’s Health.
“Generally, when someone says ‘flesh-eating bacteria,’ they are referring to a condition called necrotizing fasciitis,” Sejal Shah, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, previously told Women’s Health. “It is a serious aggressive bacterial infection that spreads very rapidly and causes tissue death.” Yeah, that’s a horror film-worthy description, all right.
It’s a scary prospect, all right. However, contracting necrotizing fasciitis is quite rare. A healthy immune system can fight it off. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flesh-eating diseases are more common in people who have chronic conditions that weaken the immune system, like cancer or diabetes.