Uploaded by MaryGreeley on 10 Jun 2011
It is publicly unknown how many of over 1700 treated May 22 Missouri tornado victims now suffer the wrath of a rapid, aggressive fungal infection in their wounds that is causing nerve damage, blindness, brain and lung blood clots and death, but Thursday, health officials issued a staff warning about the killer fungus now that at least nine people have been treated and three or four died due to it. Dr. Uwe Schmidt, an infectious disease specialist at Freeman Health System, said three or four people with the infection called zygomycosis have died reported the News Leader. Although medical staff knew that the killer fungus was causing serious complications the week after the tornadoes, the situation was kept under cover until Thursday. Still, a close approximation of the number of people infected with the deadly fungus is not being revealed. In the deadly tornado aftermath that destroyed Joplin, Missouri’s St. John Hospital, Freeman Hospital doctors treated over 1,700 patients while St. John Hospital doctors treated patients in emergency makeshift facilities at Memorial Hall and McAuley Catholic High School.
The Zygomycosis fungus invades underlying tissue – the underlying blood vessels, and cuts off circulation to the skin causing the area to become black according to Dr. Schmidt who says it is “very invasive.” Head wounds are the most lethal, while the fungus remaining in an arm or leg have required amputation to save the patient according to Tornado victims wounded near the head have died. As soon as brain tissue started dying, it was too late to save the patient” according to the Leader. The real number of victims with the deadly fungus is unknown as the “report of numbers of cases of reportable diseases are handled by public health departments,” according to Cora Scott, a spokeswoman for St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, who has been referring all questions to Springfield-Greene County Health Department. Only a week after the tornado, three fungal infection patients were admitted to Freeman Hospital and doctors tried controlling the fungus with intravenous medicine and by removing killed tissues. Dr. Schmidt said that he and other medical staff could see mold in the wounds. “It rapidly spread. The tissue dies off and becomes black. It doesn’t have any circulation. It has to be removed.”