An Arizona schoolteacher thought she had the flu, but the virus that lurked inside her was actually something far worse.
Christin Lipinski, a young mother of three, was diagnosed with the flu earlier this month. But instead of getting better, she found herself in great pain, especially in an armpit, where it felt like someone was trying to ram their finger into her chest.
"After several days of increasing pain and failing to receive proper medical care from multiple medical facilities, Christin was transported by ambulance to a Level 1 Trauma Hospital," her family said on a GoFundMe Page dedicated to raising funds for her medical care.
And what had been a bacterial infection had transformed into a highly aggressive form of necrotizing fasciitis. Or, flesh-eating bacteria.
More than 30 percent of her soft tissue has been removed from her arms and torso. She underwent two surgeries within 12 hours and more will be needed, her family said.
She is in critical condition, in a drug-induced coma and breathes with a respirator.
"Christin faces a very long road to recovery ahead with numerous skin graft surgeries," her family wrote.
It will likely be months before she can leave the hospital, and no one knows when she might be able to return to her job as a special education teacher.
"We've been very lucky," Nathan 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," he told KPHO-TV
Bacteria that causes flesh-eating disease can enter the body through a cut, a bite or a burn. Keeping such wounds clean and covered is the best way to prevent infection, health experts say.