PORT CHARLOTTE — Leann Thibodeau, 34, was a regular at the beach.
However, her last trip to the beach led the Port Charlotte resident to the hospital bed, where she is now recovering from a two-hour surgery.
According to WINK News, Thibodeau was diagnosed with Group A streptococcus. The bacteria’s symptoms can range from a minor illness, such as strep throat, to serious illnesses such as the uncommon necrotizing fasciitis, or “flesh-eating” disease, according to the CDC.
“I could not believe that this had happened to me,” Thibodeau told WINK News.
It all started with Thibodeau entering the waters of Englewood’s Manasota Beach with a pinhole-sized cut on her foot, according to her Facebook post.
Over the next few days, the wound didn’t grow. However, by July 4, she was hardly able to walk. Her foot was red and swollen, and there was discoloration around the wound.
Her mother took her to Port Charlotte’s Bayfront Health, where Thibodeau had a two-hour surgery Friday to clean out the infection, according to her mother, Sherry Thibodeau.
The podiatrist now has to continually clean the wound. Hopefully, Thibodeau will be able to go home by Thursday, her mother said.
When asked for confirmation of the condition, a spokesperson for Bayfront Health, Bevin Holzschuh said: “Leann Thibodeau is a patient at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and she is in good condition. I don’t have any additional information at this time.”
“All the beaches should be closed right now,” Thibodeau wrote on her Facebook post. “So so sad that my favorite place is now infected not only with red tide but also flesh eating bacteria.”
The flesh-eating bacteria is a “complication or symptom” of a bacterial infection and is rare, according to Jennifer Sexton, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County.
The infection can be treated with antibiotics and sometimes requires surgery to remove damaged tissue.
“If you are healthy with a strong immune system, your chances of developing or having complications due to this condition are extremely low,” Sexton said.
Practitioners are not required to report Group A streptococcus nor necrotizing fasciitis to local county health departments, so the Florida Department of Health cannot track the instances, according to Florida Department of Health Sarasota County spokesperson Gerald Huard.