Port Charlotte woman becomes victim of flesh-eating bacteria

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:
Leann Thibodeau loves the beach but did not expect to contract flesh-eating bacteria on her foot. (Credit: Leann Rose)
Leann Thibodeau loves the beach but did not expect to contract flesh-eating bacteria on her foot. (Credit: Leann Rose)

A case of flesh-eating bacteria, right here in Southwest Florida. There have been several people infected the last couple weeks in Gulf waters. Now, a Port Charlotte woman is the latest victim, bringing the medical malady close-to-home.

Leann Thibodeau loves the beach. She is a regular at Boca Grande every weekend. But in the last weekend of June, Thibodeau decided to try someplace new: Englewood’s Manasota Beach.

Thibodeau knew she had a cut before entering the water but was not worried about the pinhole-sized cut on her left foot. The wound did not grow any larger over the next couple of days. But, by July 4, her foot was red and swollen, with discoloration around the wound.

“I didn’t believe that I had flesh-eating bacteria,” Thibodeau said. “I am like, ‘my foot is just infected. No big deal.'”

Thibodeau joked with co-workers about contracting a flesh-eating bacteria from the Gulf of Mexico. But she was unable to walk by Independence Day, leading her mother to take her to Port Charlotte’s Bayfront Health.

A doctor at the hospital diagnosed her with Group A Streptococcus, which is often the cause of flesh-eating infection.

Thibodeau was devastated by the news.

“I could not believe that this had happened to me,” Thibodeau said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flesh-eating bacteria can be deadly. Diagnosis, antibiotics and prompt surgery are key to stopping the infection.

On Monday, WINK News spoke exclusively to Thibodeau from her hospital bed as she recovers from surgery. Her foot is slowly healing and the wound is held together by stitches as antibiotics keep the infection under control.

Thibodeau offered this warning to beachgoers, looking to relax: “They need to be aware that there is [sic] bacteria in the water.”

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