Fungus strikes Joplin tornado victims
Thursday, June 9, 2011 | 11:53 a.m. CDT
JOPLIN — An aggressive fungus is striking Joplin tornado victims, contributing to a handful of deaths.
Doctors told the Springfield News-Leader that at least nine survivors may have contracted blood-vessel invading zygomycosis (ZEYE'-goh-meye-koh-suhs) infections.
Overall numbers weren't available. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department declined to release them, citing patient privacy concerns.
Kendra Williams of the health department said the common fungus likely came from soil or vegetative materials embedded in the skin by the tornado.
After the tornado, Freeman Health System in Joplin treated more than 1,700 patients. An infectious disease specialist there, Dr. Uwe Schmidt, said some wounds that were stitched up during the rush of patients had to be reopened because they weren't adequately cleaned and had debris in them.
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