Pacifica woman cured of flesh-eating bacteria

What started off as a scrape on Lori Madsen’s arm turned into a fight to stay alive.

The Pacifica resident nearly lost her arm — and her life — after she took a spill on some pavement two months ago.

Later that night, she began feeling sick with severe, worsening pain in her arm.

She soon had blisters all over her arm and checked in to Seton Medical Center in Daly City. It turns out a rare bacterial infection called necrotizing fasciitis was eating away at her wound.

After a few days at the hospital, Madsen’s situation worsened. That’s when Dr. John Crew, lead wound surgeon at Seton, stepped in.

Crew was stirred to action after hearing Madsen in pain one morning during rounds. He decided on a treatment including NeutroPhase, developed by Bay Area firm NovaBay Pharmaceuticals.

NeutroPhase is a wound cleanser that mimics compounds found in white blood cells to wipe out stubborn infections. A 54-patient clinical study at Seton showed NeutroPhase was more effective at treating infections than cleaning wounds with saline solution.

Madsen’s treatment proved to be a success, and she is now swimming again. She told CBS 5 she remembers Crew’s efforts fondly:

“He was my angel, he just happened to come out of the nurses station.”

Contracting a deadly infection like Madsen’s is very rare, but can start with something as small as a cut. The bacteria multiply quickly, and early symptoms are generally vague and flu-like.

The body can start shutting down as a result of the toxins released. Crew recommends that anyone who gets an injury that breaks the skin — even a small boo-boo — to wash the area thoroughly and immediately.