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Flowery Branch woman hospitalized with flesh-eating bacteria
Flowery Branch woman Tamika Compton is being treated for a flesh-eating bacteria at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

More information on flesh-eating bacteria
Transmission: Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria, is caused when the bacteria enters a wound, such as an insect bite, burn or cut. Often, it occurs when the wound comes in contact with ocean water or occasionally other warm bodies of water.
Symptoms: Severe pain; skin that is red, swollen and hot to the touch; fever; nausea and vomiting; diarrhea.
Prevention: To prevent any kind of infection, including flesh-eating bacteria, wash hands often and keep cuts, scrapes, burns, sores and bites clean and covered.

How to help

Compton’s family and friends created a GoFundMe page to help pay for her medical expenses.

A Flowery Branch woman is hospitalized at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville after being diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria.

Tamika Compton, 25, is in fair condition, though she already has lost large portions of her arm to the bacteria and has undergone multiple surgeries, according to her sister Tiandra Compton.

“She was having some pain in her arm,” Tiandra Compton said. “I want to say it started getting bad for her last Saturday. She didn’t know what the cause was; she just had a little soreness around her elbow.”

Tiandra Compton said her sister went to the hospital Sept. 20, and was told it was likely tendinitis. Three days later, she had a fever, the pain was worse, and her arm had swollen significantly.

“I took her to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, and her arm kept getting bigger,” Tiandra Compton said. “They checked her vitals, but they thought they couldn’t get a good read on her pulse. It was actually just really low.”

Within a few hours, Tamika Compton was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria and was told she needed surgery.

“She was scared,” Tiandra Compton said. “She’d never had any kind of surgery, and she didn’t really have any idea about what was going on. I just told her, ‘Let them do what they think they need to do for you to get better.’”

Tamika Compton had her first surgery about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to her sister, and it ended around 2 a.m. Wednesday. She had a second surgery about 2 p.m. the same day.

“At this point, the doctors were saying, ‘We don’t know how much of the muscle or tissue is dead. She may not be able to keep her arm,’” Tiandra Compton said. “She’s right-handed so that was a concern, but we were more concerned with her just being safe.”

A third surgery was performed Friday, but doctors did not have to remove any more tissue, according to Tiandra Compton. A fourth procedure was performed Monday, but doctors did not remove any tissue and were able to remove Tamika Compton from a ventilator.

“She was awake and coherent today,” Tiandra Compton said. “She’s still a little upset and trying to process it all, because this was the first time she’s really been cognizant of it all since she went to the hospital last Tuesday.”

How Tamika Compton contracted the bacteria is still a mystery, and may remain so, according to her sister.

“A lot of people have been saying, ‘Oh, the lake, the lake, the lake,’” she said. “But the last time she went to the lake was Aug. 5, when she went to Helen with a bunch of her co-workers. This isn’t the kind of thing, I don’t think, that’s dormant for a period of time and then comes up out of nowhere.”

Tamika Compton worked as a server at Chili’s Grill and Bar in Flowery Branch, and her sister said life will be challenging for her even if she is able to keep her arm. Serving and using her dominant hand may not be possible.

Tamika Compton’s friend and co-worker Bridget Lace Cooper created a GoFundMe page asking for donations to help pay for her treatment, rehabilitation and living expenses until she is able to work again.

Despite the struggles ahead, Tiandra Compton remains optimistic for her sister.

“We’ll make it,” she said. “... After she does come back from the hospital, she will hopefully go back to living somewhat of a normal life.”

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