An El Diamante freshman is back home after a small cut on his finger led to him contracting a flesh-eating disease that nearly cost him his hand.
Camil Flores' son, Matthew, cut his finger on his helmet at football practice last week, and, within hours, was violently ill, she shared on Facebook Saturday.
The next morning, Flores awoke to find Matthew's finger had enlarged and was turning black. She rushed him to the doctor who sent him straight to the emergency room. Matthew was then transferred to Valley Children’s Hospital and had emergency surgery, the post said.
“The surgeon said that she had never seen anything so bad and she was afraid he was going to lose his finger,” Flores wrote. “The infection was eating his finger and half of his hand and I couldn't believe how bad it had gotten in a matter of hours.”
Her post has been shared more than 9,500 times.
"According to the parent, it was a Strep A infection," said Suzie Skaden, Visalia Unified School District director of health services. "We contacted the health department and were advised to send a letter to parents."
The letter was sent to parents of football students at each Visalia Unified high school, Skaden said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Group A Strep is a bacteria that can cause a wide range of infections, including “strep throat” or impetigo – a skin infection. Sometimes, the infection can cause serious and even life-threatening diseases.
In Matthew’s case, the infection occurred when he came into contact with his football gear, Flores wrote.
“The [doctor] said he got the infection from his football equipment,” she posted. “When the surgeon tested the bacteria it came back as flesh-eating disease!”
While Matthew's case is rare, parents and players should still take precautions, Skaden said.
"We have never had a case of this before," she said. "The main concern is if you have a wound and it appears to be infected, get medical attention."
In addition to the letter, the school district also cleaned each high school program's football gear with Strep A grade disinfectant wipes.