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Aimee Copeland is now listed in serious condition

Copeland, 24, is battling necrotizing fasciitis caused by flesh-devouring bacteria

She has been hospitalized for more than a month

(CNN) —  

Aimee Copeland on Tuesday reached another milestone by being upgraded from critical to serious condition at the Georgia hospital where she has valiantly fought a condition caused by flesh-eating bacteria.

According to Doctors Hospital of Augusta, both critical and serious conditions include a patient having vital signs that are unstable and not within normal limits. Whereas a patient in critical condition may be unconscious and have indicators that are “unfavorable,” a person in serious condition is acutely ill with indicators that are “questionable.”

Copeland, 24, late last month began breathing on her own and talking for the first time in weeks, and even cracked jokes.

The bacteria led surgeons to amputate her hands, part of her abdomen, one of her legs and her remaining foot in an effort to stay ahead of the disease.

The young Snellville, Georgia, woman’s ordeal began May 1, when she was riding a makeshift zip line across the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta. The line snapped, and she fell and got a gash in her left calf that took 22 staples to close.

Three days later, still in pain, she went to an emergency room. Doctors eventually determined she had necrotizing fasciitis caused by the flesh-devouring bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila.

Surviving flesh-eating bacteria

Since then, her father, Andy, has written regularly about her situation, and the psychology department at the University of West Georgia – where Aimee has been pursuing her master’s degree in psychology – also has posted regular updates online.

Family counters flesh-eating bacteria with faith