A long-serving and well-loved pastor has been killed by a flesh-eating bacteria infection that has already left five others seriously ill.
Linda Snyder, from Sacramento, who is a preacher at city’s United Methodist Church, died this morning following a six-month battle with the deadly germ called necrotizing-fasciitis.
She was the sixth person to have developed a flesh-eating infection over the course of the last two months.
At the beginning of June South Carolina grandmother Louise Thompson underwent emergency surgery to remove infected flesh from her leg and was in a coma for five days.
And last month student Aimee Copeland from Georgia College had to have her leg, her foot and both hands amputated and is still in intensive care after bacteria got into a cut she developed following a fall.
Mrs Snyder contracted the deadly disease on January 6 after bacteria got into a wound, possibly an abscess, she had developed in December.
Doctors tried to contain the spread of the bacteria, but her daughter Karen told Fox 40 that her mother had developed lots of complications and medical staff were unable to contain it.
The horrible infection scarred her lungs and caused her to develop pneumonia.
Mrs Snyder, who has given the sermons at the United Methodist Church for the last decade, was a popular figure and her daughter described her as her ‘best friend.’
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‘She was a woman of faith and that gave her strength and passion to live her life,’ she said.
Mrs Snyder had been married to her husband Chuck for 37 years and was said to adore her grandchildren.
The bacterial infection is called flesh-eating because of its particularly aggressive nature – skin rapidly disappears when the germ takes hold.
Family and friends of Mrs Snyder will gather at Japanese United Methodist Church on June 30 to say their final goodbyes.
While fellow victim Miss Copeland is still in intensive care, on Tuesday doctors downgraded the 24-year-old’s condition from critical to serious, indicating that she continues to improve after the horrible bacteria nearly took her life.
On the same day, Lana Kuykendall, the new mother who was infected with the bacteria days after she gave birth to twins at an Atlanta hospital, improved her condition to fair after spending weeks in intensive care.
Still in danger: Aimee Copeland, 24, (left) remains in the hospital after her leg, foot and both hands were amputated. Lana Kuykendall, 36, (right) had just given birth to twins before she was afflicted by the disease
Victims: Paul Bales (left) and Bobby Vaughn (right) have both been struck down by the infection
Miss Copeland’s father, Andy, said physicians believe his daughter should be out of intensive care and ready to move into the hospital’s rehabilitation clinic near the end of the month.
‘She’s going to have to learn to use prosthetic limbs,’ he said.
‘But the critical-care phase, I believe, has come to an end.’
He said one doctor who had expected her to spend months in intensive care was ‘blown away by her rate of progress.’
Miss Copeland was infected with the insidious bacteria after she fell from a homemade zip-line into the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton and cut her thigh on rocks.
Mrs Thompson had gone to a Simpsonville doctor reporting a pain in her leg that she said felt ‘like pins sticking in my skin’ but no visible signs of infection.
She ended up in hospital undergoing surgery to remove ‘a place the size of a regular football’ it was reported.
Mrs Thompson is still recovering at the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville but on Friday she stood up for the first time in months. She said she hopes the next step will be getting home.
She said: ‘I won’t ever ignore something that’s sore anymore, I just really thought that I wasn’t going to live.’
Bobby Vaughn, 33, was the third victim. He has been upgraded to good condition after doctors removed two pounds of flesh from his groin.
He became infected after he cut his thigh while cutting weeds in Cartersville.
Paul Bales of Lake Sinclair became victim number four after he cut his leg while installing a new dock at the lake on May 1.
It was a very small cut that didn’t stop the grandfather playing golf the next day but within four days the cut had swelled and he was forced to have his leg amputated.
Despite the bizarre outbreak of the disease, Dr Mike Green, of Macon, said people shouldn’t over-react and become paranoid about becoming infected.
It remains very rare, he said.
NECROTIZING FASCIITIS: WHAT CAUSES IT, AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotizing’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.