Peoria school teacher diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria

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Nathan and Christin Lipinski (Source: Lipinski family) Nathan and Christin Lipinski (Source: Lipinski family)

Christin Lipinski thought it was just the flu, but it was something much worse.

Nathan Lipinski said his wife Christin is in the hospital, fighting for her life against a flesh-eating bacteria.

"I'm trying to stay positive, but at the same time it's hard not to be thinking the worst because you hear all of these horror stories associated with this disease," he said.

The Peoria school teacher is being treated at the Maricopa Medical Center with necrotizing fasciitis, also known as the flesh-eating disease.

A couple weeks ago, the mother of three had some flu-like symptoms and pain on her side.

She went to several doctors and took a number of medications, but nothing helped.

Christin was then diagnosed with the rare disease that has already eaten away roughly 30 percent of the soft tissue on her body.

"I've read about it in news and I always thought it was something associated with stagnant water or something back East," her husband said. "I would have never thought with our lifestyle, it would have ever come across us."

So far, the Valley mom has been through eight surgeries, including one Monday morning.

Dr. Kevin Foster heads up the AIHS Arizona Burn Center and said he's encouraged by Christin's progress.

"Her wounds are clean and not advancing," he explained. "It looks like we have things under control now. Over the next couple weeks, we will be reconstructing things."

"We've been very lucky," Lipinski said of his wife. "This could have progressed further down her arm, led to an amputation, or gone across her chest. We've been lucky when we look at it from that aspect."

The danger, however, is far from over.

"Christin faces a very long road to recovery ahead with numerous skin graft surgeries, reconstructive surgeries and physical therapy," reads a GoFundMe page set up to help the Lipinskis with Christin's mounting medical expenses. "We currently don't know how long it will take for Christin to fully recover but she will most likely be hospitalized for several months before she can be safely discharged, assuming there are no further complications. 

According to Foster, the bacterium that causes flesh-eating disease often enters the body through a cut, insect bite or burn on your skin, which is why it is so important to keep a wound clean to prevent bacteria from getting in.

About 1 in 100,000 in the U.S. get the flesh-eating disease each year.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

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Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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