DACULA, Ga. - A Dacula woman said she's thankful to be alive after contracting a rare, and potentially fatal, bacterial infection in April.
Once known as
scarlet fever, the group A streptococcus infection entered Robin Thieken's body through a rash on her neck.
"It sent the toxins throughout her body," her husband, Paul Thieken, said.
Her body began to shut down
as all of her internal organs began to fail.
Doctors at Gwinnett Medical Center had to put her in a medically induced coma for 11 days so they could fight the infection.
"I kept thinking, 'Man what am I going to do with these kids? What am I going to do without her?'" Paul Thieken said.
Six months later, Karen Thieken said she's almost back to normal. She told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston she has permanent hearing loss in her right ear.
"I'll be getting a hearing aid, and other than that, I really don't have much to complain about. Very, very lucky," Karen Thieken said.
Dr. Robin Dretler, chief of staff at DeKalb County Medical Center and an infectious disease specialist, said infections like Thieken's are very serious, but very rare.
"Our own immune systems can miss certain things, and if you get exposed to something your immune system can't handle you're in trouble," Dretler said.
The best way to fight it, he said, is exercise, eat right and don't smoke. He said these things will can keep your immune system healthy and strong.