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2-year-old girl contracts flesh-eating bacteria

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SEATTLE — A 2-year-old Marysville, Wash., girl who contracted flesh-eating bacteria has undergone six surgeries on her right leg so far and is still hospitalized as doctors battle the infection.

zoeyZoey Chalk has been at Seattle Children’s Hospital since May 25. Her parents believe she contracted flesh-eating bacteria through a tiny cut on her right ankle.

“They said there was a possibility she could die; she could lose her leg,” said Zoey’s mother, Valorie Chalk.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a 1,000 people die in the United States from necrotizing fasciitis every year.

Valorie and her husband, Bryan Chalk, are still stunned their daughter contracted a flesh-eating bacteria.

“You don’t think as a flesh-eating bacteria or virus as a real thing — you think, yeah, right,” Valorie said.

“I didn’t even think it was a real thing. Now I am told not only is it a real thing, but it’s happening to my daughter,” Bryan said.

Zoey’s mother said it started with a rash on her daughter’s right ankle that quickly spread over her leg.

“It went from a tiny, little rash to it looked like someone had beat her on her leg,” Bryan said.

“It happened so fast; it wasn’t a day later, it was hours, within hours this happened,” Valorie emphasized.

legThe father said doctors told him if he had waited just a few more hours to get her to the emergency room, their daughter would have died.

Since then, surgeons have cut out sections of tissue from Zoey’s leg, saving her life and her leg. Her family said she still has to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries.

“Inside I am a mess; I shake so much I can’t even update people on what’s going on,” Bryan said.

It’s hard for Zoey’s parents to explain how a normal day at home turned into a nightmare in just hours.

“Bleached that whole house down. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know what it came off of, but my other kids are there, too, and what if they pick it up? It is terrifying,” Valorie said.

“I think for other parents, it is something you need to be aware of. Sometimes you  have to hit the panic button even if you don’t feel like you need to,” she said.

On Monday, the family of five was finally able to be together. Zoey’s sister sang to her in her hospital bed.

Bryan, a cancer survivor, was recently a victim of a hit-and-run that left him with serious injuries.

If anyone would like to help the family cope with Zoey’s battle with flesh-eating bacteria, and the family’s medical bills, they can donate by going to

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  • esco

    That's a nasty , scary virus. I couldn't imagine what that feels like to be eaten alive.
    Please stay strong and keep up hope, my best wishes to her and her family. Bless you..

  • tammy mainor robinson

    I spent 6 weeks in harborview back in 1995 with the same thing. I am very lucky to be alive and have my right leg also. It started at my right ankle and goes all the up to the top of my thigh. The scarring is something out of a horror movie but the doctors were able to save my leg. Sometimes I wish I could just tell people a shark attacked me. When I say flesh eating bacteria they freak out and think its still contagious. I can only imagine what this girl will go through. Since this happened to me I have been in and out of the hospital with staff infections and MRSA, I am taking antibiotics on a regular basis now. If I run out of antibiotics I end up back in the hospital. I pray she doesn’t have to go through a lifetime of this. I also noticed she has been there since may 25th. There is something about that 25 number. When I was a kid I always said I wouldn’t live past 25. I ended up spending my 25th birthday in harborview fighting for my life and my right leg. All I can say is wow, I can really relate to what this family is going through.

  • Debra Wagner, CPO

    I am in the field of prosthetics and happen to be Zoey's auntie. I can't tell you how many prostheses I've fit from people losing their legs and sometimes arms from this flesh eating bacteria. Uncle Rob and I pray for you Zoey and your family for strength and healing in the most complete way. It is heart wrenching to see a baby have to suffer with this and we want you to know how much we love and support you. Love, Auntie Deb in Las Vegas.