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Updated: Flesh-Eating Bacteria Kills Redding Man, Family Says Origin is a Mystery

Published On: Oct 11 2012 09:39:28 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2012 11:00:00 PM CDT
sam harris
REDDING, Calif. -

A flesh-eating bacteria has claimed the life of a 36-year-old Redding man at Shasta Regional Medical Center.

Sam Harris was killed by necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria as confirmed by his mother, Vicki Yeager.

Vicki Yeager, Harris' mother said she still can't believe the news, saying he was an active man, an avid hunter, and loved by everyone.

According to Yeager, Harris had recently returned from a hunting trip in the Trinity Alps when he started complaining of severe pain in his upper body Friday night.

His two teenage daughters told him he needed to go to the hospital.

Doctors confirmed it was necrotizing faciitis and Harris immediately underwent a series of 4 separate surgeries in 12 hours to remove the skin and muscle tissue that had been attacked by the bacteria.

Eventually his organs began to fail and he passed away on Sunday.

Yeager said Harris was healthy and the family did not know of any open wounds on his body.

The bacteria makes a toxin that kills tissue.  There is no barrier that's created by the immune system so it  simply eats away at any tissue in its path.   It's also resistant to any available antibiotics.    Health experts describe it as a very-rare infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are between 650 and 800 known cases in the U.S. each year.

The Shasta Public Health Department said necrotizing faciitis is uncommon and severe. It is an infection of the soft tissue under the skin, and is a complication from other diseases such as strep, staph, or clostridia infection. The various germs that can cause it are commonly present in the soil, on the skin, in the intestines and they can enter the body through a cut, insect bite or other abrasion and then rarely cause this severe complication, especially in people with weak immune systems.

Shasta Regional Medical Center said the hospital staff were not compromised.

If you would like to help Harris' daughters out with medical expenses you can donate to the "Samual Harris Memorial Fund" at any US Bank.

His funeral is planned for Friday at 1 p.m. at the Allen & Dahl Funeral Chapel in Palo Cedro.

Yeager said it's important for people to remember the fun, loving man Harris was they're asking people to dress casually and the pallbearers will be wearing camouflage

Necrotizing fasciitis is the same infection that made national headlines when it nearly killed a Georgia woman earlier this year.

Aimee Copeland, 24, lost all her limbs and had five major organs shut down.  Copeland had been zip-lining when her equipment came loose and she fell, cutting her leg.  That's where the bacteria entered her body and nearly killed her.

Video

A Rare Case of Flesh Eating Bacteria Attacks Redding Man