By Beth Sawicki, WXIA-TV, Atlanta
AUGUSTA, GA - The medical condition of the Georgia woman suffering from a flesh-eating bacteria has been upgraded to "good," Aimee Copeland's doctors announced Monday.
The upgrade means that the University of West Georgia graduate student's vital signs are stable, that she is conscious and comfortable, and that her indicators are excellent, said Barclay Bishop, media relations manager for Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga.
The upgrade is another victory for Copeland, 24, who has been hospitalized since May 1, battling kidney failure and other organ damage after she began exhibiting symptoms related to the necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating bacteria. She contracted the bacteria through a gash in her leg while riding on a homemade zipline over the Lower Tallapoosa River.
Copeland lost her hands, left leg and right foot to the disease. She was upgraded from "serious" to "good" condition less than two weeks after being upgraded from "critical" to "serious."
Copeland's recovery has attracted nationwide attention.
Andy Copeland, Aimee's father, told WXIA-TV on Monday that his family is encouraged by the many milestones his daughter has recently achieved. He said that Aimee even went outside in her wheelchair for the first time over the weekend.
In Aimee Copeland's case, the necrotizing fasciitis was caused by bacteria known as Aeromonas hydrophila, found in warm rivers and streams. Many people exposed to the bacteria don't get sick. Only a handful of necrotizing fasciitis infections caused from that strain of bacteria have been reported in medical journals in recent decades.
Flesh-eating bacteria emit toxins that destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 550 to 1,000 cases of necrotizing fasciitis occur each year. About 1 in 4 patients dies.