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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (NBC) – A North Carolina woman claims she contracted flesh-eating bacteria while vacationing in Myrtle Beach last week, but medical experts say it may be more complicated than that.
Her family tells the NBC affiliate in Myrtle Beach that the 60-year-old woman had surgery Sunday at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill to try and remove the infection and is in stable condition.
The family says last week she cut her leg on a chair on a hotel balcony in Myrtle Beach.
They didn’t think the cut was serious and the woman went in the ocean.
Later her leg turned purple and was covered in blisters.
The family’s viral Facebook post says the woman came in contact with flesh-eating bacteria after putting her feet in the water at the beach.
“We see it all the time where someone goes into the ocean with an open wound. They don’t have it covered. They don’t keep it clean and then they get a significant skin infection,” says Dr. Dennis Rhoades with Doctors Care.
“It has to be the perfect storm. You have to have all the factors coming together,” Dr. Rhoades continues. “Was there an open wound? Was there diabetes? Is there some other medical condition that makes that person’s immune system weaker?”
He also says the length of time they were in the water and the amount of bacteria that may have affected any wound plays a factor as well.
The city says the family has not contacted them, but that ocean water quality testing is done twice a week. The results have “excellent.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has released a statement about the woman’s case.
They say a flesh-eating bacteria infection is “not” necessarily associated with exposure to natural waters like oceans, lakes or rivers of poor water quality.
The Myrtle Beach spokesman says the city is investigating.