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Woman loses sight in one eye after catching flesh-eating disease in mud run

Competitors participate in a mud run in Pooler, Ga., last weekend. (Ian Maule/Savannah Morning News via AP)

Mud runs offer a lot to joggers. They’re a chance to get exercise while letting loose splashing around in swampy pools of muck. But one participant in a race in Dallas got way more than she signed up for. She caught a flesh-eating bacteria, which caused her to lose sight in one eye.

“My eye started hurting, like maybe I’ve got mud or some debris in there,” Brittany Williams told CBS DFW on Monday, about two weeks after she ran the race. “When I opened my eye, it was just like white. The whole room was white.”

Williams believes debris in the race cut her eye, which allowed the flesh-eating disease to wreak havoc on her cornea.

“It just completely melted off of my eye,” she said.

Williams caught an infection known as necrotizing fasciitis, which only very rarely affects those with normally strong immune systems. The infection can be caused by several bacteria, including common types like Streptococcus and E. coli. Treatment varies but, according to the CDC, the most common course of treatment is intravenous antibiotics combined with surgery to remove any infected or dead tissue.

Williams, however, would like to save her eye, but she’s run into some financial obstacles because she does not currently have health insurance.

“I’ve had health insurance before and I never used it,” she told Houston’s ABC 13. “I never went to the doctor and I just spent lots of money for nothing. So I didn’t see the point at the time when we couldn’t afford it.”

Unfortunately, that’s now left Williams with around $100,000 in medical bills and a lot of trouble finding a surgeon who will treat her because of her uninsured status.

In an effort to make a dent in her debt, Williams, her fiance and family set up a GoFundMe page to pay for her treatment, but so far it’s raised just $6,750.

“Another rough day for Brit everyone,” a man named Rob who helps run the page wrote on Tuesday. “We were scheduled for a follow up and deep tissue biopsy/culture early this morning. Before getting fully checked in or seeing any of her team members, we were asked to leave and told we could no longer be treated within their facility secondary to lack of insurance and full payment.”

Rob said if they can’t find a new doctor soon, Williams will start a course of “leftover antibiotics” the family has.

Despite everything, Williams is trying to keep a positive outlook on her future.

“Even though people go through horrible things, I make the best of it,” she said. “Because there’s no point in sitting and sulking, because it’s just going to make the rest of my days miserable.”

Correction: This post originally mislabeled the infection known as necrotizing fasciitis as a bacteria.