Woman Left Paralyzed After Sharing Makeup Brush

MRSA bacteria invaded her body
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2015 9:44 AM CDT
Woman Left Paralyzed After Sharing Makeup Brush
Makeup brushes stand in a container on a worktable at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico in Mexico City, Oct. 3, 2014.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Jo Gilchrist borrowed a friend's makeup brush recently, using it to sweep makeup onto her face—including over a pimple. Soon after, in February, she noticed a "dull ache" in her body. Initially unconcerned, the 27-year-old Australian called a doctor when she was in such pain she couldn't get out of bed. Ultimately she learned that she had contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection; the bacteria had likely gotten in via the makeup brush and the pimple. As the Warwick Daily News explains, about a third of healthy people have staph bacteria on their skin; the Independent notes that for those people, the bacteria typically "colonize" without causing any symptoms. CBS News says 2% of people are carriers of the antibiotic-resistant version. Doctors told Gilchrist her immune system simply couldn't fight off the infection.

Days after her first doctor visit, Gilchrist started losing feeling in her legs. Doctors told her the infection had damaged her spine and would leave her unable to walk, but she says she's managed to get "a wiggle out of my toes" and is determined to prove them wrong, though she's currently wheelchair-bound and will likely reside in Princess Alexandra Hospital's spinal ward for at least three more months—during which her son will turn 3. "It will feel like a lifetime, but at least I will get to go home to him in July and it will be OK," she says. A video posted on her Facebook page on March 30 shows her moving her legs and briefly standing and walking with support, and she notes in the description, "As hard as it has been [I'm] so lucky to have muscle power and no feeling [rather] than the other way around!" (This mom was killed in a freak driveway accident.)

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