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Sepsis Threatens Brazilian Model's Life

Mariana Bridi da Costa Hospitalized After Amputation of Hands, Feet; Pseudomonas Infection Blamed

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 23, 2009

[Editor's note: Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa died Jan. 24,2009.]

Jan. 23, 2009 -- Mariana Bridi da Costa, a 20-year-old Brazilian model whohas participated in international beauty competitions, is in a hospital inBrazil with a life-threatening infection.

Bridi da Costa, a past finalist in the Miss World Brazil competitions, has a severe blood infection calledsepsis (also known as septicemia) that began when she had a urinary tract infection,according to Bridi da Costa's web site. Because of her illness, Bridi da Costahad to have her stomach removed and her feet and hands amputated.

Doctors originally thought Bridida Costa had kidney stones; instead, she had aurinary tract infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria,according to media reports. The infection then spread to her blood.

Bridi da Costa's case is a "terrible situation," but pseudomonasinfection causing a urinary tract infection is "exceedingly rare" inyoung, healthy people in the U.S., says Michael Phillips, MD, a hospitalepidemiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

Pseudomonas bacteria are present in the U.S., but they don't cause mosturinary tract infections. Another bacterium, E. coli, is the leadingcause of U.S. urinary tract infections.

Phillips, who isn't treating Bridi da Costa, says that because urinary tractinfections caused by pseudomonas bacteria are so rare in healthy, young U.S.adults, there aren't special steps to take to prevent those infections.Phillips encourages patients to see a doctor if they have urinary tractinfections and says doctors should take a culture to check the cause of anyunusual or persistent urinary tract infections. "Then you can identify thebug and then you're sure that you're on the right antibiotics," Phillipssays.

If Bridi da Costa's infection had been diagnosed earlier, it might have madea difference. "That's true with any infection," Phillips says.

Pseudomonas infection doesn't always prompt dramatic illness right away, butit can progress quickly. And pseudomonas bacteria aren't the only bacteria thatcan lead to sepsis if untreated.

"A wide array of bacteria, once in the bloodstream, can cause what'shappened to this young lady," Gordon Dickinson, MD, chief of adultinfectious disease at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and theMiami VA Hospital, tells WebMD. Like Phillips, Dickinson says cases like Bridida Costa's are very rare and that during his career, he's seen "maybe ahandful of patients out of the blue with serious pseudomonas infection ... cometo the hospital."

Pseudomonas bacteria could travel up through the urinary tract to thekidneys, and then get into the blood and lead to sepsis. Treatment might wipeout or suppress the bacteria, but "the body is so heavily inflamed at thatpoint" and that inflammation can damage the body, says Phillips.

Bridi da Costa's stomach wassurgically removed because of internal bleeding. The reason for that internalbleeding isn't clear from her web site. As for her amputations, sepsis canprompt blood vessels in the hands and feet to shut down, leading to tissuedeath that requires amputation. Sepsis can also cause organs to shutdown.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

MarianaBridi.com

CNN.

Fox News.

Herald Sun.com

Michael Phillips, MD, hospital epidemiologist, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Gordon Dickinson, MD, chief of adult infectious disease, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Miami VA Hospital.

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