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Hank gets straight to the facts in the unfortunate case of Aimee Copeland, who was injured during a zip-lining accident and subsequently contracted a rare disease.

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Welcome back to my office for some more SciShow News, where today we're giving you some background about the strange and terrible case of Amy Copeland.

As you might have heard, Copeland was riding a zip line over a river in Georgia two weeks ago when the line broke and caused a large gash in her left leg. Doctors used 22 staples to close the wound, but a few days later she returned to the hospital with severe pain and was diagnosed with a rare, but deadly infection necrotizing fasciitis.

The media of course don't want to call this necrotizing fasciitis, they call it the flesh-eating disease.

But that's wrong; the disease is caused by a bacteria that releases toxins that kill human tissue. They are not literally eating the flesh.

As they spread, the toxins break down the cell membranes, leaving behind dead tissue and creating a condition called gangrene.

Mega doses of antibiotics are given, but the only sure way to stop the spread is to cut out the infected area.

In this case, Copeland has had her left leg and part of her abdomen removed, and doctors expect to amputate some of her fingers next. At last report, she was in critical but stable condition.

Unsurprisingly, Copeland's case has a lot of people wondering how this frightening disease is contracted and how it can be prevented.

It turns out that necrotizing fasciitis is typically caused by the same bacteria that cause strep throat, a decidedly less severe condition called Group A Streptococcus.

These guys are particularly virulent because their membranes contain proteins that bind well to host cells and also acids that thwart the white blood cells that typically take care of such invaders.

But maybe the most unusual part of Copeland's case is that her condition isn't caused by these bacteria, instead doctors recently determined that the culprit is aeromonus hydrophilia a bacterium often found in waters in warm climates that when ingested causes gastric symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.

But in people with compromised immune systems, like Copeland's was after her injury, a hydrophilia can cause gangrene if it enters an open wound.

Now as I mentioned,  necrotizing fasciitis is rare in the United States, the CDC estimates fewer than 1,000 cases are diagnosed per year. The fatality rate can be anywhere from 20-60%.

As with all infections, the only way to prevent it is by cleaning wounds thoroughly, no matter how small and to watch for redness, drainage, and above all extreme localized pain.

Our thoughts are with Copeland and her family. At the very least, her ordeal is allowing us to learn more about this disease. We'll see you next week.