An 8-year-old Ore. boy fell off his bike. Eight days later, he died from a rare infection.
A family in Oregon is warning other parents about the risks of flesh-eating bacteria after their eight-year-old son’s death Sunday, Jan. 21.
Liam Flanagan died after a grappling with the bacteria for eight days, his mother, Sara Hebard, told Fox 12 News in Portland, Ore.
Flanagan took a bad fall while riding his bike at the family’s farm near Pilot Rock in rural eastern Oregon and was taken to the emergency room with a wound on his thigh. He received seven stitches and was released, but later began complaining of pain.
Hebard and Scott Hinkle, the boy’s stepfather, looked again at the wound and were alarmed by what they saw, the East Oregonian reported.
“It was purplish-red and gangrenous looking,” Hinkle said. “We threw him in the rig and went like hell.”
His family took him back to the hospital, where he underwent four surgeries attempting to stop the spread of the fast-moving bacteria, known as necrotizing fasciitis, that Flanagan likely picked up from dirt entering his wound.
Doctors attempted to cut the infection from an area stretching from the boy’s ankle to his armpit.
“They basically cut him up piece by piece,” Hinkle said.
Hebard and Hinkle had never heard of the rare bacteria and want other parents to know that it could be a risk.
“He was a bright ray of sunshine,” Hebard said. “He loved everyone and everyone loved him. He was one of those people who would walk into a room and would draw everyone.”
The CDC says on its website that such infections are indeed rare and symptoms such as fever, chills or vomiting will likely appear within a few hours of the initial injury. Good wound care is important, including the following steps:
- Keep draining or open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed.
- Don’t delay first aid of even minor, non-infected wounds (like blisters, scrapes, or any break in the skin).
- Avoid spending time in whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible.