Kindergartner loses leg after strep throat leads to dangerous infection
ABC NEWS -
An Ohio girl is recovering after a rare complication from strep throat led to a dangerous infection, which required amputation of one leg.
Tessa Puma, 6, was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection commonly referred to as "flesh-eating bacteria," that can spread quickly in the body. Her father, Matt Puma, said doctors believe the dangerous infection was caused by bacteria from her strep throat.
Tessa had been diagnosed with strep throat earlier in the month and took antibiotics. But when she was struck with the flu last week, her parents started to notice she was complaining of pain in her arms and legs. They took her to two hospitals before doctors diagnosed a problem added to her bad case of the flu: necrotizing fasciitis.
"They did some more tests and confirmed she had the flu and saw she had some kind of infection," Tessa's father said. "She spent a couple of days in the hospital and her leg got worse and worse."
At one point, simply touching Tessa made her scream in pain. When doctors performed surgery to relieve swelling in her leg they found extensive damage in her left leg as well as parts of her shoulder and back.
Necrotizing faciitis can occur after bacteria from a strep or other bacterial infection migrates to the blood stream and infects the facsia, or thin membrane, between the muscles and skin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria can cause tissue to die as it spreads, causing serious complications that can require amputations or result in death.
In Tessa's case, doctors believe the strep bacteria migrated to her blood stream causing the dangerous infection. When doctors could no longer find a pulse in the girl's leg, they concluded she likely had too much dead tissue. To help her heal, they amputated her left leg from the knee down.
Puma said the doctors told him that "if there was any kind of hope for her to live and survive, it's going to be best to amputate her leg."
Tessa is recovering at Akron Children's Hospital, but will need further surgery and additional portions of her left leg removed to help her survive. But, Puma said his daughter has a strong will and he believes she will eventually return to what she loves: dancing.
"She's very good-hearted," Puma told ABC News. "Whenever she puts her mind to something, she's very determined. This isn't going to set her back to her goals."