Tamara Owsley-Savard was playing a game of hide-and-seek when she ran into “the biggest spider web” of her life and was bitten by a spider.
Now more than a month later, the Topeka, Kansas mom is still fighting a flesh-eating bacteria that she says may have been caused by the bite.
Owsley-Savard, 32, told KSHB that she was bit by a spider on Memorial Day and her arm began to swell. She also felt sick, but she told the station she thought she would be OK.
It wasn’t until about a week later that her husband knew he needed to take her to the hospital.
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“My arm was growing an inch an hour,” Owsley-Savard told KSHB. “My arm was probably two or three times the size.”
The mother of four was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, which is a flesh-eating bacteria, according to a Facebook post by family member Angel Sisco-Savard.
“This is my Sister in law that has been in KU med for 39 days now,” Sisco-Savard posted on Tuesday, along with a link to a GoFundMe fundraising page.
“Her and her husband has not been able to work (due) to 4 kids and her husband being off work to help her and taking care of the kids,” Sisco-Savard wrote.
Owsley-Savard’s husband, David, told FOX that she had her 15th surgery on Tuesday to continue treating the flesh-eating infection. Surgeries are needed to remove dead tissue that bacteria has killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is not unusual for someone with necrotizing fasciitis to end up needing multiple surgeries,” the CDC reported.
On July 14, her husband posted that they had a goal to leave the University of Kansas hospital by this coming weekend.
“It’s changed my life forever,” he told FOX.
A Tuesday post on Owsley-Savard’s Facebook page says she may be released from the hospital in two days, but she would still need to return for a follow-up visit.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection of tissue under the skin that can get into the body through a break in the skin, according to the CDC. The infection spreads quickly and can cause loss of limbs and death.
“It’s very crazy,” Owsley-Savard told KSHB in a video interview. “It’s very emotional. It’s very life changing.”
Dr. Dhaval Bhavsar with the University of Kansas Health System told KSHB that they have not confirmed that the spider bite caused the infection.
“To be truthful, we don’t know exactly how it happens,” he told the station.
The CDC reported that there have been about 700 to 1,200 cases of necrotizing fasciitis every year since 2010. The CDC said that number is likely an underestimate. The University of Kansas Hospital treats around 50 patients with the infection each year, according to KSHB.
Last year, a Missouri man was bitten by a brown recluse spider, and doctors thought he may have had necrotizing fasciitis, the Kansas City Star reported. Fortunately, he was only reacting to the venomous bite and not a flesh-eating infection.
This month in Arkansas, a woman’s leg was amputated after a spider bite infection spread from her toe to her knee, WREG reported. She needed seven surgeries because of the bite.
And in New Jersey, a man is fighting a flesh-eating bacteria that he contracted while crabbing, WPVI reported. The infection spread to all four of his limbs and may have been caused by Vibrio bacteria in the seawater.