Risky Trips: Everywhere. The tragic case of Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old who lost her hands, feet, and right leg after contracting the bacteria through a zip-lining accident in Georgia last spring, has put this gruesome disease—also known as necrotizing faciitis—in the spotlight. (Creeped out? Know that although very serious, your chances of contracting it are slim.)
Vital Signs: Don’t let the Georgia case give zip lining a bad rep, because it doesn’t matter where you are. All that matters is that the infection can enter the body through cuts, abrasions, and even insect bites—eventually destroying muscle, skin and fat tissue. Your skin is constantly getting traumatized, so don’t ignore even minor cuts, and always thoroughly clean and treat any break in the skin. “This infection just takes off,” says Adalja. “If you notice that a cut is hurting more than it should, or that the redness is spreading fast, seek professional medical attention at once.” At this point, Neosporin won’t help. You have to cut out the infected tissue to keep it from spreading.