Flesh Eating Bacteria – Signs, Symptoms, Cure & Prevention

Flesh Eating Bacteria has recently killed a woman in Florida and there are a lot of questions and confusion regarding this life threating disease.

While the world is surrounded with numerous and multiple bacteria, one can only imagine on how bad these infections can affect people’s health. Necrotizing Fasciitis or Flesh Eating Bacteria is something you may like to know!

Flesh Eating Bacteria

What Are Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

Necrotizing Fasciitis was first ever found by Dr. B Wilson in 1952, giving us a small sense of past. According to Dr. B Wilson, this disease has been affecting people for more than centuries but never got recognized.

Necrotizing Fasciitis got its term ‘Flesh-Eating Bacteria’ after it was found that this disease condition can rapidly spread to fascial planes of connective tissues that result in tissue necrosis or in other words, tissue death or damage.

Fascial planes are the collection of connective tissues that are surrounded by blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. Fascial planes can allow body structures to slide over each other respectively and effectively as well as it can bind the structures all-together.

According to health experts, this disease is said to be very rare that can affect your body tissues adversely and can occur in almost any body area.

It is because of serious bacterial infection of subcutaneous tissues that lies just below the skin and fascia that causes this Flesh Eating Bacteria or Flesh Eating Disease.

Necrotizing Cellulitis, Suppurative Fasciitis, Flesh-Eating Bacterial Infection, Fournier’s Gangrene, Flesh-Eating Disease are some of the names given to Necrotizing Fasciitis.

According to a health survey, every year this disease affects almost 200,000 people around the globe which also includes 1,200 United States individuals.

As per reports, this type of disease can be caused due to numerous bacteria, which is why it can develop anytime and spread quickly as well as the diagnosis is not that easy. The lack of proper medication can result in multiple organ failure and death.

How Do You Get The Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

This disease is an unwelcomed guest that can ruin some of the most essential bodily organs and tissues. Health experts have found some of the reasons that can invite such infection.

Necrotizing Fasciitis can affect anyone who has some kind of injury or went through any surgery.

Here are some of the ways that can help such deadly infections to enter in your body. Some of them are as follows:

  • Abrasions
  • Minor Cuts
  • Insect Bites

Necrotizing-Fasciitis-Through-Insect-Bite

There have been cases where health experts could not find the reasons of how this infection started to grow and develop.

The only thing you must keep in your mind is once this infection gets into your body, Necrotizing Fasciitis can destroy your fat tissues, muscles, and skin rapidly.

Symptoms Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria

It has been reported that Necrotizing Fasciitis can affect any patient within the first 24 hours of infection.

According to health experts, these are some of the combinations that are likely to be noticed and experienced during Flesh Eating Bacteria infection.

  • Worst pains from any cut or abrasion
  • Flu-like symptoms such as general malaise, diarrhea, weakness, nausea, dizziness, and fever.
  • Increase in pain in the general area around abrasion, a minor cut or any other skin opening area.
  • Dehydration or intense thirst
  • Warmth around the wound and redness on the body, though the infection can begin at another body area

There are also some of the advanced symptoms that can affect the infection site with a touch of intense pain.

These are some of the things a patient can likely be facing after three to four days of Necrotizing Fasciitis infection.

  • Peeling, flakiness, and discoloration due to tissue death or gangrene.
  • Large, violet-colored marks that turn into blisters with foul-smell and dark fluid.
  • Purplish rash with swelling

Below are some of the critical symptoms that an individual can experience after four to five days of infection

  • Toxic shock
  • Unconsciousness
  • Severe blood pressure drop

Causes of Necrotizing Fasciitis

According to doctors, Necrotizing Fasciitis can be commonly caused by group A Streptococcus Bacteria (GAS) [1], the same type of bacteria that causes Strep Throat. However, Staphylococcus [2] and other several bacteria can be associated with this Flesh-Eating Infection.

This disease can be likely to occur when such bacteria infect and affect the layer of connective tissue below the skin called Superficial Fascia.

Early Symptoms Of Flesh-Eating Disease

Doctors suggest that an individual can experience the first signs of Necrotizing Fasciitis by pain in the injured area, redness, and swelling. Blisters can also be noticed in the involved area of the skin. Vomiting, fever, nausea and other flu-like symptoms can be common factors that give an individual a sense of this disease.

Swelling-As-Early-Signs-Of-Necrotizing-Fasciitis

This disease is said to affect people’s health rapidly and in just 24 hours it can spread through the tissues beneath the skin.

Skin discoloration, peeling and scaling with gangrene or death of affected area can be one of the late signs of Necrotizing Fasciitis.

According to doctors, people with weak immune systems or someone with chronic medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes are at the higher chance of being affected with this Flesh-Eating Disease.

Recent injuries or surgeries, viral infections causing rashes or chickenpox may increase the chances of developing Necrotizing Fasciitis.

This is why it is necessary for people to maintain good hygiene that can prevent and protect your skin from harmful bacterial skin infections.

The best way to prevent yourself is to avoid using hot water tubs, open water sources or get into swimming pools when you are injured or have open wounds and sores. The best way to prevent yourself from Necrotizing Fasciitis is keeping your wounds covered until its healed. Proper wound care and maximum hand washing is also recommended.

People Likely To Get Affected With This Disease

According to scientists, Necrotizing Fasciitis can affect any individual, including the healthier ones. Here are some of the people who are at the higher risk of being infected with such deadly Flesh-Eating Disease.

  • Excess Alcohol and drug users
  • Older adults
  • Women during childbirth
  • People with weak immune system
  • Diabetic people
  • Severe health problem individuals
  • Peripheral vascular disease patients
  • Malnutrition people
  • Individuals with obesity

Rare-Cases-Of-Necrotizing-Fasciitis-In-Children

Mandibular fracture or dental treatment can result in Cervicofacial Necrotizing Fasciitis [3].

Punctures caused due to a mosquito bite, pinpricks and tattoos can invite these bacteria into the body.

Is Flesh Eating Bacteria Contagious?

As per health experts, Group A Streptococcus can spread amongst people if they exchange saliva or mucus from mouth, throat or nose of an infected person to other individuals.

It can also spread through coughs and sneeze, allowing the bacteria to spread in the air. The bacteria in the air can also infect you when you breathe such air or touch such contaminated objects.

It is often seen that the best way to spread any infection is sharing personal things such as drinking cups, spoons, cigarettes, forks and kissing.

People who are at high risk of getting Necrotizing Fasciitis from an infected individual are:

  • Family members living with the infected people.
  • Partners living the infected person and sharing a romantic bond.

Necrotizing Fasciitis Treatments

As per studies and research, the people with Flesh-Eating Bacteria have to undergo numerous health treatments. The duration of this treatment depends on what stage a victim is in or the damaged caused by this infection.

Here are some of the treatments that an individual can get into:

  • Medications to raise blood pressures
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy [4] to preserve healthy tissues
  • Intravenous antibiotic therapy
  • Amputations of the affected limb
  • Blood transfusions
  • Cardiac monitoring and breathing aids
  • Surgery to remove damaged or dead tissue to prevent the spread of infection
  • Intravenous Immunoglobulin [5]. This supports the body’s ability to fight disease

According to senior study author Isaac M. Chiu, assistant of microbiology and immunobiology at Harvard Medical School

“Necrotizing Fasciitis is a devastating condition that remains extremely challenging to treat and has a mortality rate that’s unacceptably high.”

Tests and Exams to Diagnose Necrotizing Fasciitis

Though there are numerous studies and research ongoing on this disease, immediate results may not be available instantly. Therefore, if an individual suspects any signs of this disease, they are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible to get healthy suggestions and treatment that can help in keeping this infection at bay.

  • Laboratory tests including multiple blood tests such as Complete Blood Count (CBC) can reveal an elevated White Blood Cell Count (WBC). Blood cultures, electrolyte panels, and other blood-related information can be found in this test.
  • Imaging studies like CT scan, ultrasound and MRI have reported identifying Necrotizing Fasciitis successfully. When the signs are equivocal, or the diagnosis is in doubt, these treatments can be used. This can also help in finding inflammations, infections, fluid collections and gas within soft tissues.
  • Gram stain, tissue culture, and tissue biopsy can help in identifying the organisms responsible for such bacterial infection. With this, you can get a complete idea about the proper anabolic therapy that helps in recovering.

How Can Necrotizing Fasciitis Be Prevented?

According to studies, there are no vaccines that can prevent the group A streptococcal infections. Medication is recommended for people who are close to the infected people to avoid infections like Flesh Eating Disease such as people living under one roof with the infected member.

There can be severe consequences of streptococcal infection that can multiply rapidly which is why it is best to rush to the hospital as soon as someone experiences the first signs of Necrotizing Fasciitis. The only thing or clue that can help in giving knowledge is severe pain around a wounded or injured place.

As for advice, it is best to take care of your minor cuts and wounds to prevent such deadly infection to the tissues under the skin. Make sure your wound is always covered with a clean and dry bandage.

How To Heal From The Effects Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

Post-treatment, when doctors feel that the infection is finally out of the body, either from surgical treatment or medication, the wound will either be filled or closed.

After the treatment, the recovery process involves the long-term psychological and emotional healing, as well as physical therapy.

Physical-Therapy-To-Overcome-Flesh-Eating-Bacteria

A large and infected wound will normally require skin grafting. As per reports, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment can be one of the beneficial supplement therapies that can help people with curing open and large wounds.

Necrotizing Fasciitis or Flesh Eating Bacteria can be very deadly, but with proper medication, an individual can be cured successfully.

Conclusion

With this, we advise you to consult your doctor if you ever feel or experience any first sign of Necrotizing Fasciitis. Fast and proper medication can help you combat this disease. Its always said that ‘Prevention is better than Cure’, so keep yourself hydrated and keep yourself free from any bacteria that affects you negatively.

Reference

  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=60947
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/Staphylococcus
  3. http://www.jiaomr.in/article.asp?issn=0972-1363;year=2011;volume=23;issue=4;spage=656;epage=659;aulast=Debta;type=0
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy/about/pac-20394380
  5. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11530
Michelle

Michelle is the senior most expert who writes for this website. After completing her graduation and 10+ years of practice, Michelle has been involved and known for a lot of her philanthropy work. Michelle loves spending time researching and writing her papers. She occasionally writes for us and we are extremely proud to have her as one of our editors.

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