HealthWatch: SoCal Teen May Lose Hand To Fish Tank Infection

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A Hesperia teen has been fighting a rare bacterial infection for five years, and doctors now believe it is time to take drastic action to get rid of the painful ailment. 

The infection is a rare one called Mycobacterium marinum, found in fish tanks. It causes immense pain in the right hand of Hannele Cox.

It all started when Cox, now 13, stuck her hand in the family’s fish tank and accidentally cut herself in the summer of 2006.

Her hand swelled almost immediately and since that time. The active sports lover has been back and forth to doctors who are unable to kill the infection that has now spread into the tissue and bone of her right hand and wrist.

Cox, an avid gymnast, dreamt of getting to the Olympics, but she is no longer able to compete.

“I’ve been on tons and tons of medications,” she said, “and it hasn’t even worked- and two surgeries, and those haven’t worked either.”

Cox is resigned to the prospect of losing her hand.

“I just want to be done with the pain,” she said. “I’ve been in pain for five years.”

Cox is also selling her pet horse, Pebbles. Riding is too difficult, and painful, and the family needs the money to pay for the costly amputation surgery.

She tells Mills with a smile, “I’m trying to stay positive through all this.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved.)

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