Flesh-Eating Bacteria Hospitalizes 'Vibrant' West Virginia Teen

A "vibrant" West Virginia teen was hospitalized with a rare condition caused by a "flesh-eating" bacteria.

Olivia Kiger-Camilo, a high school junior from the city of Wheeling, was rushed to WVU Children's Hospital in Morgantown and taken to the ICU last week after being infected with the bacteria, likely via a cut on her foot, a family friend, Nikki Bowman Mills, said in a Facebook post.

There, medical staff diagnosed her with a very rare and "extremely" serious condition called necrotizing fasciitis.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a potentially fatal infection caused by several different types of bacteria which move rapidly through the body, attacking the skin and soft tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

The name refers to the fact that these bacteria cause the death of soft tissues—for example those that surround muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels—which, in severe cases, can result in the shutting down of organs

The bacteria that cause the flesh-eating condition—such as group A streptococcus and Vibrio vulnificus—can enter the body via openings in the skin, such as cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds and surgical wounds.

Necrotizing fasciitis is rare, occurring in only about 0.4 people per 100,000 every year in the U.S., according to a study published in the journal Skeletal Radiology.

After arriving at WVU Children's Hospital, Kiger-Camilo underwent several surgeries and was placed on a ventilator, according to Mills.

Fortunately, the teen is now free of the bacteria that caused the condition following a successful surgery, which took place on Friday evening. Medical staff also took the teen off the ventilator but she remains in hospital.

"She is speaking. She is full of gratitude, sass, spunk, and humor, amplified by a cocktail of anesthesia," her mother, Rebecca Kiger, said in an update on Facebook.

Kiger-Camilo will undergo further procedures this week and she will also have to have a skin graft.

"We have turned a corner. Prayers were answered," Kiger said.

Although she is now bacteria-free, doctors have told Kiger-Camilo that she has a long recovery ahead.

"We are at the beginning," Kiger told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register.

A family friend, John Meeker, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the parents of Kiger-Camilo, who he described as a "beautiful, vibrant high school junior."

"Right now they need funding to cover housing and support to allow them to stay with her and take off work. If you can assist in any way, it would be truly appreciated," Meeker wrote.

A girl in hospital
Stock image showing a girl in hospital. A “vibrant” West Virginia teen was hospitalized with a rare condition caused by a “flesh-eating” bacteria. iStock