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Rare Bacterial Infection Strikes Gwinnett City Again

The wife of South Gwinnett HIgh math teacher Mark Rinehart recently had surgery at Northside Hospital. Both hands and feet were amputated.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reported Saturday that Hannah Rinehart, a patient care technician at DeKalb Medical Hillandale, fell victim to a bacterial infection that claimed both her hands and lower legs.  

Rinehart developed aches and pains, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post, but once her fever broke the couple put their worries aside.  

When Rinehart, a cancer survivor, went to see her oncologist for an appointment, Mark had to "carry her in."  

She has been comatose for weeks now.  

Mark Rinehart has set up house in the intensive care unit at Northside Hospital and rarely leaves her side. 

"Just played song we danced to at our wedding for my wife (in ICU for 20 days)," he tweeted on July 20.  "I asked if she knew I was crazy about her.  She nodded yes." 

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Rinehart posted the following report on his wife's Facebook page:

"Just recently spoke with orthopedic surgeon (foot doctor). He took the wrappings off of Hannah's legs yesterday, and will look at them tomorrow, but wants to leave them covered today.

"From his perspective, everything concerning the legs looks fine. He did, however, mention that Hannah's fever and elevated white blood cell count was not typical for someone three days after coming out of surgery." 

Flesh-eating infections are extremely rare, so it's shocking to see two people linked to South Gwinnett with similar experiences.  after falling from a zip line and gashing her leg.

Hannah Rinehart's infection was not caused by the same bacteria. In fact, hers most likely came from the family dog and is caused by blood poisoning. Although the infection doesn't "eat" flesh, about 30 percent of people who develop it die.

"It is unbelievable that something so rare can hit a community twice in one summer," said Snellville Mayor Kelly Kautz in an email to Snellville Patch.  "My thoughts and prayers go out to this family."

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