Tennessee Woman Undergoes Multiple Surgeries After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria at Nail Salon: 'She Could Have Lost Her Finger or Her Arm'

A Tennessee woman has undergone multiple surgeries to treat an infection of a "flesh-eating bacteria" which she claims she contracted at a nail salon.

Jayne Sharp said she was getting a manicure at a salon in western Knox County when she was pricked her thumb, WWL-TV reported.

She thought nothing of it, but a day later Sharp said her thumb began throbbing and she also felt sick, making it hard to sleep.

Thinking she had the flu, Sharp visited a local medical center, where staff tested her for the virus. However, these results came back negative and a nurse practitioner suggested that the symptoms might be related to her thumb.

Subsequently, the swelling began spreading up her arm and she said she was barely able to use her right hand. A doctor then told her that she may have necrotizing fasciitis, and that her life was at risk.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, 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 can lead to the shutting down of organs in severe cases.

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.

"Basically you have a break in the skin and this bacteria gets introduced under the skin into the soft tissue and then into the blood stream," Dr. Udit Chaudhuri, from the Summit Medical Group, where Sharp was treated, told WWL.

Doctors operated on her successfully, removing a chunk of her right thumb.

"She could have lost her finger or her arm if she hadn't been diagnosed properly," Chaudhuri said.

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.

However, certain groups are more at risk, for example, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. As a diabetic, Sharp has a weaker immune system, making her more susceptible to necrotizing fasciitis.

The nail bar in question said they meet safety standards when it comes to cleaning their tools, and passed an inspection with no issues following the incident.

Stock photo: Woman having a manicure. iStock