Kylie Marble, 21, is likely to take a break from the bike trail for while, after a minor biking injury she sustained last month nearly took her life. The college student became infected by the flesh-eating bacteria Clostridium perfringens after falling off her bike and cutting her knee in the dirt. Marble has been in the hospital for over a month recovering from necrotizing fasciitis caused by the deadly infection, but the aspiring musician is simply happy to be alive.
On June 15, Marble fell off her bicycle while playing a game of "bike tag." “I knew it was a bad idea," Marble’s mother told ABC News. But Marble said that "it seemed like fun. We had a blast.” That was, until she fell of the bike, costing her a trip to the hospital for stiches, something Marble and her family thought nothing off. It wasn’t until the young woman returned home that she began to notice something wasn’t quite right. “That night, when I was at home, my thigh started to become inflamed," Marble said.
Upon returning to the hospital, doctors soon realized what exactly they were dealing with. The Oregon woman ended up being sedated for a week as doctors worked to save her leg and life from the violent bacterial infection. It took a total of nine operations to save Marble, but she’s not in the clear just yet. She now faces months of rehab, physical therapy, and more surgeries. “I should be able to do a lot of things. A lot of it just depends on how hard I'm willing to work," she told ABC.
Clostridium perfringens is a spore-forming gram-positive bacterium that is found in many parts of the environment, as well as in the intestines of humans and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that the bacteria causes nearly a million cases of food-borne illnesses each year, making it the third most common type of food-borne illness. Flesh-eating symptoms, such as what happened to Kylie Marble, are much less common, occurring in only about 650 to 800 people each year, the NY Daily News reported.
Flesh-eating bacteria are fairly common in the world but the chances of contracting disease from them are rare. Those with compromised immune systems are at an increased risk. There is also increasing evidence that genetic factors also play a role in an individual’s likeliness of falling ill to the bacteria. Unfortunately, in extreme cases, the infection can cause death when left untreated. An example of this is the tragic death of 18-year-old Benjamin LaMontage who passed away earlier this year after contracting a similar infection during a routine oral surgery.