What You Need to Know About Flesh Eating Bacteria

There has been alarming cases of flesh-eating bacteria around the United States. Aimee Copeland, a graduate student form Georgia, remains in critical condition as she fights the rare condition called necrotizing fasciitis, in which flesh-eating bacteria run rampant through tissue. The infection began after she gashed her leg in a river and has since spread in her body, causing one of her legs to be amputated and soon her fingers as well to stop the bacteria from spreading further.

Meanwhile, Lana Kuykendall of South Carolina is also being treated for the same disease after noticing what looked like a blood clot on the back of her leg. She has given birth to twins just several days before being admitted to the local hospital in a fight for her life.

What is necrotizing fasciitis and what can we do to prevent it from happening to us? Here are vital information on what we need to know:

How common is this disease? The government estimates about 750 cases of flesh-eating bacteria syndrome happen each year.

Is there a particular type of bacteria that eats human flesh? Many types of bacteria can actually cause necrotizing fasciitis, including certain types of strep and staph germs. There are also rare cases of this disease caused by the Aeromonas hydrophila bacteria, such as what happened to Copeland. Also, these bacteria do not actually “eat” the tissue. The destruction of skin and muscle is caused by the toxins these bacteria release.

Do people survive with this disease? Yes, especially if treated early. However, about 1 in 5 of patients of flesh-eating bacteria syndrome die.

How can this disease happen to people? The germs that can cause necrotizing fasciitis are commonly found in warm and brackish waters such as ponds, lakes, and streams. Dipping yourself in these waters do not get you infected, except if you have injured yourself and develop a deep gash that opens the door for these bacteria to enter your body.

How to avoid such an infection? A prompt and thorough medical care could stop the infection before it spreads. However, if the wound is sutured and stapled too soon it can create an environment deprived of oxygen that causes the bacteria to multiply and spread deep within the tissues. Also, the Aeromonas bacteria is resistant to common antibiotics, so it is important to consult with a physician for the best treatment possible.

Source: New York Daily News


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