4th Victim Loses Leg to Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Paul Bales cut himself working on dock in Lake Sinclair
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2012 12:03 AM CDT
Updated May 25, 2012 2:34 AM CDT
4th Georgia Victim Loses Leg to Flesh-Eating Bacteria
This is a scanning electron microscopic image of the bacteria responsible for the flesh-eating disease that has struck four Georgia residents.   (AP Photo/UTMB-Galveston, Ashok K. Chopra, Ph.D., and Dr. Leon Bromberg)

An astounding third victim in Georgia—the fourth in recent weeks in the Southeast—has been infected by a flesh-eating bacteria and has already lost his leg to the disease. Paul Bales cut his leg three weeks ago while removing a section of dock on Lake Sinclair in Milledgeville. "Very small cut. He just bandaged it up and played golf for the next couple of days. He didn't think it was a big deal," Bales' son told WGXA-TV. Bales' leg was amputated below the knee yesterday, and he's listed in stable condition, though doctors may have to amputate more of the limb.

The infections, which all seem to be linked to cuts and exposure to lake or river water, are beginning to panic Georgia residents. Another victim affected by the flesh-eating bacteria in the last few weeks is from South Carolina. "People are scared they'll lose limbs. Everybody in town's scared to go out on the water," said a Lake Sinclair resident. But a Macon County family doctor cautioned against overreacting to the frightening outbreak of necrotizing fasciitis. “We have thousands of people getting in Georgia rivers and lakes and aren’t getting this,” he told the Macon Telegraph. (More Paul Bales stories.)

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