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Woman Dies of Flesh-Eating Bacteria From Harvey Floodwaters

Nancy Reed broke and cut her arm when she fell in her son's home
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2017 3:33 PM CDT
Woman Falls Into Harvey Floodwaters, Dies of Flesh-Eating Bacteria
In this Sept. 4, 2017, file photo, a car is submerged in floodwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey near the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs in Houston.    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

(Newser) – A Texas woman fell into Hurricane Harvey floodwaters at her son's home and ended up dead from flesh-eating bacteria. Nancy Reed, 77, is the second known person to contract flood-related necrotizing fasciitis after Harvey, the Houston Chronicle reports. She died Sept. 15, but the Harris County medical examiner's office just ruled on her cause of death. The quick-spreading infection, which can cause organ failure and death in a short amount of time, also hit rescuer JR Atkins while he was helping his neighbors; he contracted it through an insect bite but survived.

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"This is one of the things we'd been worrying about once the flooding began, that something like this might occur," says the director of the city's emergency medical services. "It's tragic." When Reed fell, she broke and cut her arm, and the injury got infected, a family friend says. The medical examiner's office concluded the infection caused complications related to "blunt trauma of an upper extremity," the Dallas News reports. A doctor warns KTRK that even after floodwaters recede, the dangerous bacteria can remain on anything floodwaters touched. (Read more Hurricane Harvey stories.)

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