Teen gets flesh-eating bacteria from football helmet

VISALIA, Calif. -- Parents are warning others after their son was infected with a flesh-eating bacteria from his football helmet.

When Camil Flores shared the image of her son's hand on Facebook, he was already in recovery from the flesh-eating bacteria, but his wound was severe.

"This happened just from a nick, from a helmet, from playing football," Flores said.

She said the infection started on the practice field last week at El Diamente High School. Her son is a freshman and didn't think much of the cut, but she said he got sick within hours and started vomiting.

He discovered his finger had swollen when he woke up the next morning.

"His finger was ten times the size of his other fingers," Flores said.

The boy was taken to urgent care then to the ER and, finally, to Valley Children's Hospital, where he was taken into surgery.

"When the surgeon came in, she could not believe how severe his finger was," Flores said. "It was discolored, he couldn't feel it, the swelling increased and the antibiotics were just not working."

Doctors said it was necrotizing fasciitis caused by a strep-A infection, and it could have led to amputation or even death.

"It's a very uncommon type of infection," said Suzie Skadan, director of health services at Visalia Unified School District.

Skadan said the district was notified by Flores, and letters were sent home to parents about it. Football gear at all the high schools was wiped clean Monday.

"It's unfortunate that it happened to this child, but we wanted to make sure that what we did - also for the safety of all of our athletes - that we took the necessary measures," Skadan said.

As for Flores' son, his hand was saved during surgery The infection was cleaned out, but there is a lot of damage.

It's his dominant hand, and Flores isn't sure if he'll be able to regain mobility.

"It makes me feel really helpless that I can't do anything for my son, and I can't take this away from him," she said. "This can happen to anybody."