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Did Tainted Water Cause Eye Staph Infection?

Reported: Jan. 27, 2014 10:48 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 27, 2014 11:28 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) – The tainted water is being blamed on any number of adverse reactions, whether it was drinking it or showering with it, but now there’s a new claim. We spoke with Delegate Tiffany Lawrence, who told us, she nearly lost her vision, because of a bad reaction to the water. Lawrence told us, when she got in to town for the legislative session, she took a shower in the water, and within 24 hours, her burning eyes swelled shut. It was an intense reaction she said. It was a nasty staph infection and her doctor told her, that she was lucky she didn’t lose her eyesight altogether!

"My entire eye was swollen shut and my lid was basically drooping over my eye," said Lawrence, who still can’t believe what she went through. She had stays in two different hospitals, St. Francis in Charleston and Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, all told, about a week!

Her wrist purple and yellow from all the IV's in her arm and right eye looks good with makeup now. She saif the pictures of her eye are too gross to show on TV, and that it was so swollen and incredibly painful.

"They diagnosed it as paraorbital cellulitis,” explained Lawrence. “Which can actually destroy your vision and it can go to your brain pretty quickly through the eye canal."

It was a nasty staph infection, she believes she got, from showering right after pipes were flushed, while she was in town for session.

"I felt like my eyelid was a little bit enflamed and irritated, which was strange," said Lawrence. She dismissed it as seasonal allergies and kept going. The next day, she woke up and her face hurt! She was admitted to St. Francis Hospital.

"The immediately put me on an IV bag of antibiotics,” said Lawrence. “Gave me a steroid, ran a CT scan."

Days later, she was sent to Ruby Memorial in Morgantown.

"In the meantime, my veins had collapsed and they were having trouble getting any intravenous drugs in me," said Lawrence.

Four days later, the swelling and painful pressure began to ease.

"It didn't even cross my mind until the next day, this is the only thing I've changed and there's something wrong," she said. Lawrence said she racked her brain trying to remember if she had done anything differently and even though there's no way to prove the water is to blame, it's the only variable she said, which was different.

"It was a scary, scary situation and one I never want to repeat," she said,

Lawrence said she was contacted by the attorneys handling the class action lawsuit, but added, there really is no way to prove without a doubt, that the water caused the staph infection in her eye.

Lawrence said she never expected to be a poster child for the chemical spill, but now her experience has pushed her to not let anyone drag their feet on the bill that’s proposed right now. So that all communities in West Virginia will have better protections for their water supplies.



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