An Indiana family’s dream vacation to the beaches of Destin turned into a prolonged nightmare that isn’t going to end anytime soon for a 12-year-old girl.
The family claims the girl contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while vacationing in the Florida Panhandle beach town. The girl’s mother, Michelle Brown, posted the saga on Facebook and then told WFLA that things spiraled downhill quickly.
“Going to bed on a Sunday and your daughter’s fine, and then waking up on Monday morning and she’s sick,” Brown said.
The family’s first day of vacation was June 7 and following some stormy weather, they hit the beaches on June 9, “in hopes to have a blast and enjoy the warm weather and the beach,” Brown said.
Despite the storms passing, the Gulf of Mexico was churning up some unusually big waves and lifeguards were urging people not to get in too deep for fear of rip currents.
Brown said they complied and didn’t get too far offshore. The next day, “We wake up to begin our day and Kylei wakes up and she has pain in her calf on her right leg.,” Brown said.
The family assumed it was just a charlie horse from the waves the previous day, but the pain continued to get worse. Brown called her family doctor as the family headed home to Indiana. During an MRI, doctors spotted the infection, behind the girl’s knees, noting it was spreading fast.
The girl underwent emergency surgery and doctors predict it will take several more to save her leg and ensure the infection is gone.
“There are warning signs,” Brown said. “But by the time you are seeing the warning signs, it’s running rampant in your body and it does damage, very, very quickly.”
Brown said it was important to get her daughter’s struggle out to the public so parents will be careful as they plan vacations this summer.
Brown said in a Facebook post, that her daughter suffered a minor skateboarding injury before going to Pompano Beach and that she may have contracted the bacteria through a scrape on her big toe.
Though the girl faces a long road to recovery, Brown said the fact that her daughter is alive is all that matters.
Brown’s original Facebook post had more than 71,000 reactions and 191,000 shares on June 24. A gofundme.com page was set up by a family member with a modest $3,000 goal to help with medical bills and that goal was met in a matter of days.
Flesh-eating bacteria is most often associated with eating contaminated raw fish or swimming with an open wound in waters with high levels of sewer contamination.
The Florida Department of Health has weighed in after Brown’s post garnered media attention. According to the destinlog.com, health officials said there are, “no public health concerns,” in Walton or Okaloosa County.
A city of Destin official said the family has not been in contact with them, making it difficult to determine exactly where they entered the water. The FDOH also reports the family never contacted them.
“However, we are taking this issue seriously,” a FDOH statement reads. “At this time we do not have indication that this case of necrotizing fasciitis was caused by a vibrio infection.”