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6-year-old Ohio dancer loses leg after strep throat leads to deadly infection

NORTHFIELD, Ohio -- An Ohio girl lost her leg after a bout with strep throat and the flu led to a life-threatening infection, according to WJW.

In the beginning of March, 6-year-old Tessa Puma was treated for strep throat. Then, last week, she got the flu.

On Friday night, her leg began to swell up and her parents took her to Akron Children's Hospital, where doctors found an infection that forced them to amputate her leg.

Puma was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis -- also known as flesh-eating bacteria -- that doctors believe might have been brought on by the strep throat, according to ABC News.

The infection kills soft tissue and "can become life-threatening in a very short amount of time," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday night, fellow dancers from the Center Stage Dance Studio in Northfield sent well-wishes to Puma, who her dance instructor described as a phenom.

"She's only 6 years old and we knew when she was probably 4, so at least for two years, we knew she was just such a superstar, she was born to dance," instructor Stacey Kopec said.

"In the 28 years that I've been teaching dance, this is the most devastating thing that we've had to go through."

Tessa's instructor said she loves to tumble, and dance to jazz and hip-hop. Her big dance sister, Chloe Thomas, says she always lights up a room.

"She is full of energy, she's like always smiling and like, I'm never sad when I think of her, just so happy all the time," Thomas said.

Thomas said she visited Tessa in the hospital to show her how much she and her fellow dancers care.

"Every Thursday, she has ballet and I always give her a piggy back ride and take her to ballet. ... I love her and I hope she gets well soon and we all miss her," Thomas said.

"We understand that passion that she has and the joy she's brought us, just from watching her dance and being around her, it has just been extraordinary, so this has just been a huge hit to our whole dance family," Kopec said.

Tessa's fellow dancers created a huge banner wishing her a speedy recovery.

Unfortunately, late Monday evening, Tessa's family received news that there is a problem with her other leg. Tessa remains at Akron Children's Hospital for further tests and treatment.

The family is asking for prayers and have started a You Caring fundraising page to raise money for medical costs.