Woman Dies of Flesh Eating Bacteria Contracted in Hurricane Harvey Floodwaters

Almost a month after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the destruction still continues. A 77-year-old woman recently passed away after encountering a flesh-eating bacteria inside her home near Houston.

Nancy Reed, who passed away on September 15, was the 36th storm-related fatality in Harris County, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science reports.

Her cause of death was recorded by the medical examiner as necrotizing fasciitis. The report indicates that she experienced complications in the form of an infected wound after suffering an accidental fall resulting in "blunt trauma of an upper extremity."

According to those close to her, Reed was in good health before being infected by the bacteria.

"She was in good health. She was very active," Mark Renn, associate pastor for missions and evangelism at First Presbyterian Church of Kingwood, told CNN.

"She was in the ICU for two weeks," said Renn. "She went into the hospital, she was making good progress, they thought they had treated the bacterial infection, and then just to find out one morning that she was gone."

Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious skin infection that spreads quickly in the body. The soft tissue sustains damage that can become lethal within a short time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

"The bacteria that caused necrotizing fasciitis are not strange or unique bacteria," said Dr. David Persse, public health authority for the city of Houston.

"Necrotizing fasciitis, the thing that is different about that is just how rapidly it spreads," Persse continued. "But necrotizing fasciitis, the way you know it is because that redness starts to spread — you will notice the change in just a couple of hours."

There are ways to treat the infection.

"If you're worried or just want to be super attentive, take a ballpoint pen and draw a line between where the skin is red and the normal skin and mark down the time. Two hours later, mark it again. If it's moved a half an inch or more, you need to go [to the hospital]," he said.

Most of the contaminated flood waters are making their way out of homes, Dr. Persse said.

"Most of our contaminated waters are gone, they receded and we had some rain to flush out the bayous and stuff," said Persse. "But it's the trash at the end of the driveway along the curb that is still soaked with that same contaminated water."


Reed is survived by her son John F. Reed as well as her sister, niece, nephew and cousins.