Dunn, NC -- Nursing assistant Sharon Bishop, 44, died Feb. 27. A doctor said a rare flesh-eating bacteria may have entered her body through a thumb injury and she turned from healthy to fatally ill.
The culprit was a rare invasive form of group A streptococcal bacteria, said Debbie Crane, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. The noninvasive form is widespread and is commonly known for causing strep throat, she said.
"It's kind of like getting bitten by a shark or struck by lightning," she said. "It's not something that spreads to the community."
North Carolina gets about 125 reports of the invasive form of strep annually, and about 10 percent are fatal, she said.
David Bishop said doctors at UNC Hospitals, where Sharon Bishop died, have told him it's impossible to know how his wife contracted the rare infection.