CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- A Cartersville landscaper has become the third person in the Southeastto contract a flesh eating bacterial infection in recent weeks.
Doctors insist there is no link or common cause among the victims, but it is bizarre given how rare the condition is.
From his hospital bed, 33-year-old Bobby Vaughn talked to 11Alive's Duffie Dixon over the telephone detailing what he's been through in the last few days.
"I just started feeling very sick," he said. "I was throwing up and had a backache. I just thought it was a little infection."
Vaughndescribed beginning to swell, especially in his groin area, and deciding to go to the hospital where doctors immediately put him on fluids and antibiotics.
Within hours Vaughn was in surgery where doctors removed damaged tissue. He has since endured five surgeries and has lost approximately two pounds of tissue.
"I still have some skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries ahead, but they think the bacteria isn't spreading anymore," he said.
It was only afterVaughn was moved to Doctors Hospital in Augusta that he learnedabout Aimee Copeland in a room just down the hall.
The 24-year-old West Georgia grad is fighting the same sort of infection.She contractedit after falling from a homemade zipline intothe Little Tallapoosa River, east of metro Atlanta. Doctors have amputated her leg,her other foot and both her hands.
"From what I understand, her infection moved much faster than mine," Vaughn said. "Still, I was told I was just a day or two from being dead or losing entire parts of my body."
In the meantime, a female paramedic in Greenville, S.C. is also fighting a flesh eating bacterial infection. Lana Kuyrkendal developed necrotitis faciitis after giving birth to twins in Atlanta.
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Kuyrkendal's brother, Brian Swaffer, spoke to the media Sunday afternoon, saying that while she is still in critical condition, she is stabilized.
"She has a very long road ahead of her," Swaffer said."She has undergone seven surgeries. We are thankful that the infection has been contained to just herlegs and has not spread anywhere else."
Vaughn said learning about what both Kuyrkendal and Copeland are facing makes what he's going through pale in comparison.
"They are alive,"Vaughn said. "I am alive. That is what I am grateful for. That is all I can ask for."