Flesh-eating bacteria infections might look similar to other diseases in the early stages, which can make diagnosis difficult. Here's exactly how to spot it before it's too late.

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Carolyn Fleming of Ellenton, Florida, may have been the latest human being to dice of a flesh-eating bacteria infection, i m sorry she contracted epidemic swimming off the coast of Anna Maria Island in Florida, her family says.

Cases the the deadly infection, referred to as necrotizing fasciitis, might be ~ above the rise since of climate change.


Son of Florida woman speaking out for first time after flesh eating bacteria eliminated his mother

June 30, 201901:53
In fact, a study published last month in the Annals of interior Medicine stated that climbing water temperatures in the Delaware Bay may be come blame for boost in the number of cases of infections in the previously rarely impacted waters. The authors of the study defined five situations of Vibrio vulnificus necrotizing fasciitis that developed during the summer of 2017 and 2018. In the eight years prior to 2017, the doctors saw only one case of the infection.

Fleming, ~ above the various other hand, acquired the epidemic in Florida waters, her family members says, where the bacteria are naturally found.

Here’s what you need to know about necrotizing fasciitis:

What is necrotizing fasciitis?

Necrotizing fasciitis is a skin infection led to by rarely bacteria the enters the body v a break in the skin. Indigenous this opening, the bacteria aggressively attacks muscles and other organs resulting in rapid devastation of the tissues. Vibrio bacteria are one team that can cause this infection; one type, called Vibrio vulnificus, is specifically dangerous. That is usually contracted as soon as an open wound come into contact with seaside saltwater. Necrotizing fasciitis have the right to quickly construct soon after. If no treated promptly v antibiotics, the infection can come to be fatal. But much more often, the bacteria are ingested in raw or undercooked seafood, bring about diarrhea. The resulting condition is seldom life-threatening and symptoms take place within 24 hours and last about three days.


Group A strep is another kind of bacteria that can reason necrotizing fasciitis and also severe diarrhea, and a system-wide blood infection that leader to severely short blood pressure and also multiple body organ failure, dubbed streptococcal toxicity shock syndrome.

Who is most likely to acquire it?

Those v health problems that undermine the body’s immune system such as:

DiabetesKidney diseaseLiver disease, andCancer

“V. Vulnificus, which appears to it is in on the rise, reasons human health concerns in the form of blood infection and also wound infection. The elderly, those who are immune-compromised, and also the very young room at biggest risk,” claimed Kimberly Reece, chair of Aquatic health Sciences at the Virginia institute of maritime Science.

Contact with team A strep or V. Vulnificus hardly ever leads to infection in healthy teens and adults, yet anyone with open wounds need to avoid swimming pools, hot tubs and also natural body of water prefer lakes, rivers, estuaries and oceans.

How typical is the disease?

The infection is quite rare, yet Dr. Glenn Morris, manager of the emerging Pathogens institute at the college of Florida, says world should it is in made aware of it.

“Vibrio vulnificus is a little problem however nevertheless significant. That can cause a nasty cellulitis in a little group of patients,” Morris said. “If you fall into one of these high-risk categories, world should be conscious that there are bacteria in the water that can cause serious infections.”

According to the CDC, every year, 700 come 1,200 instances are diagnosed in the U.S., return the CDC notes that this is most likely an underestimate. Around 25 percent to 30 percent of those cases an outcome in death.

Necrotizing fasciitis is rarely contagious.

How to spot necrotizing fasciitis

Early symptom include:

Changes in skin colorA quickly spreading inflamed or puffy area the the skinSevere pain, including pain beyond the area of the skin the is red or swollen, andFever

Later ~ above ulcers or blisters deserve to form, and dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and also diarrhea. The infection frequently spreads easily so that is command to seek medical attention if someone is enduring one or more of this symptoms.

How is necrotizing fasciitis treated?

Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious illness that requires immediate hospital attention. Antibiotics and also surgery are frequently the an initial lines of defense, however even v prompt therapy the CDC states up to one in three civilization can dice from the infection.

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Shamard Charles, M.D.
Dr. Shamard Charles is a physician-journalist because that NBC News and Today, report on wellness policy, public health and wellness initiatives, diversity in medicine, and brand-new developments in health care research and also medical treatments.