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Mother believes her daughter contracted flesh-eating disease in Destin

The family of Michelle Brown and her daughter, Kylei, set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses after Kylie contracted a flesh-eating disease earlier this month. [GoFundMe]
The family of Michelle Brown and her daughter, Kylei, set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses after Kylie contracted a flesh-eating disease earlier this month. [GoFundMe]
Published Jun. 28, 2019

The mother of a 12-year-old Indiana girl believes her daughter contracted a flesh-eating disease during a vacation trip to Destin earlier this month.

The family has "had to fight to save her life," Michelle Brown wrote Monday in a detailed Facebook post.

Three days after their June 7 arrival in Destin, Brown wrote, her daughter, Kylei, woke up with pain in her calf. What the family first thought might be a charley horse eventually became so painful that her mother had to carry her around on her back.

Three days and three operations later, Kylei was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria that is normally found in water.

Kylei's family visited the Gulf of Mexico the day before the pain started. Storms from the previous day stirred up the ocean, so visitors were only allowed to enter the water up to their ankles. Kylei also swam in the hotel pool that night.

"I wholeheartedly believe she contracted the bacteria through a scrape on her big toe (foot on same leg) while we visited Pompano Beach in Destin, Florida," her mother wrote on Facebook.

In response to media inquiries, the Florida Department of Health released a statement Wednesday saying there are "no public health concerns" in Walton or Okaloosa County.

The day after visiting the beach, Michelle Brown wrote, Kylei woke up with pain in her calf. It dissipated as the day went on, but a day later, Kylei was in so much pain she could only walk on her toes. The pain was so pronounced by June 12, she was crying and her mother had to carry her around on her back.

The family left Destin that morning and promptly set up an appointment with their doctor. The visit didn't provide any answers, so the family was encouraged to go to the emergency room at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

After leaving the doctor's office, Kylie developed a rash on her body. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her leg had become swollen and warm to the touch. A red line ran down her calf.

Her temperature rose to 103 degrees. Her heart rate spiked. Her blood pressure soared. It took four IVs, blood pressure medication and hours to help stabilize her.

An MRI showed that an aggressive infection had spread up her leg to her thigh.

To save Kylei's leg -- and, possibly, her life -- she underwent emergency surgery to remove an infection in the muscle lining behind her knee. She went into septic shock and needed a second operation. A third followed.

She has since returned home but has a long road full of doctor's visits, blood work and physical therapy ahead of her.

"But all that matters is my girl is ALIVE," Brown wrote on Facebook. "I wanted to share her story in hopes that it may help save someone else. It is CRITICAL to be aware of the signs and symptoms and getting treatment quickly."