6-Year-Old Loses Leg After Strep Throat Leads to Scary Infection

girl loses leg from strep throat infection
Tessa Strong/Facebook

Most parents know that cases of strep throat are nothing to mess with -- but few might be aware of the complications that can arise and lead to dire consequences. A 6-year-old in Ohio tragically lost her leg to an infection after she contracted strep throat in March. Although she was treated with antibiotics and thought to be on the mend, she caught the flu and developed an infection in her leg, which, heartbreakingly, required amputation.

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How on earth could this happen? Doctors who treated competitive dancer Tessa Puma explained that the strep infection traveled through the young girl's bloodstream.

Dr. Jim Besunder, pediatric critical care medicine specialist at Akron Children's Hospital, told the Akron Beacon Journal that Tessa contracted an extremely rare condition known as necrotizing fasciitis. A fund-raising page has been established to support the girl who's been dancing since she was 3 years old. 

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Your heart breaks for this poor child and her family, but even more upsetting is the fact that Tessa isn't alone in having her strep infection cost her a limb. 

Recently, we've heard of others who've lost body parts after rare complications set in. 

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Typically, with the aid of antibiotics, strep throat runs its course in a week to 10 days. So how do things get so out of hand -- especially if you're treating the illness?

Unfortunately, Group A strep is responsible for necrotizing fasciitis in which bacteria spread rapidly once they enter the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The condition gets its name from "necrotizing," which means "causing the death of tissues."

By the time these germs have created toxins in your system, meaning your blood and skin, it is too late for antibiotics to overpower the toxins, and the only option is amputation.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert, explained it this way to CNN: "As [strep] travels through the body, it can set up housekeeping, if you will, in various locations in the body and cause damage at those locations."

What to do to stay safe

As always, maintaining good hygiene and washing hands frequently -- especially when ill -- will minimize the spread of germs. 

If you or your kids have contracted strep, pay close attention to all your symptoms. Should you develop pain or discomfort while you have strep, your body may be warning you that something more significant is going on. 

If you have fever, weakness, or extreme tenderness in certain areas, these are also signs you may have a larger issue, and you should seek medical attention immediately.

Our hearts break for Tessa and her family. As parents, we feel like once we've gotten a diagnosis and secured the right medication, we've done all we can and our kids will be good as new in just a few days. You never think that lurking in your child's body is a rare and devastating infection. Hopefully, by spreading the word that something this awful can occur, it can prevent it from happening to someone else.

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