Ahead of Fourth of July celebrations, reports revealed that a flesh-eating bacteria is becoming a more prominent problem along US beaches. Victims are trying to raise awareness and are encouraging more safety precaution as they head out to the beach today.
Flesh-eating bacteria comes in many forms, some via a wound or a gash on the skin and some via consumption of infected food. Prominently, vibrio has been reported, which can ultimately lead to necrotizing fasciitis if untreated.
In Maryland, a mother of an infected child Brittany Carey, took it to social media to raise awareness that her son contracted vibrio while out swimming in the Sinepuxent Bay near Ocean City.
“He went swimming and was having a great time until about Monday evening when I started noticing little spots developing all over his body,” Carey wrote. “Tuesday morning there were open wounds developing but I had thought he was scratching them, making them worse. Only to find when I picked him up Tuesday they were a lot bigger and a lot more.”
“Off to the hospital, we went to be told it was really nothing and an antibiotic that only made it worse. So doctors on Thursday and then PRMC to find out my little one now had VIBRIO a bacteria found in the bay and also in raw seafood.”
In particular, Vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with vibriosis become infected either by consuming raw or undercooked seafood or by exposing an open wound to seawater.
Though the potentially fatal bacterial infection requires ocean water above 55 degrees Fahrenheit to live, rising global temperatures are making them travel to other beaches instead. The result, however, is that people are contracting them in places that are supposedly rare to be, according to six authors from Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey.
“I know we’ve all seen these cases in the Delaware Bay but now my little guy got this from being in the bay right by hoopers,” Carrey added.
Meanwhile, the flesh-eating bacteria is also found in Florida after a man posted via Facebook that he contracted vibrio.
“We started with a short paddle across a dune lake to get some cool pictures. I NEVER got into the water,” Tyler ‘TK’ King wrote. “Halfway thru the bike ride, I started to experience a little discomfort in my left arm. Upon returning to where we started, my arm was starting to get pretty sore.”
He, later on, tells the story of how the rash appeared to spread rapidly across his arm, which prompted him to rush to the ER and get it checked. Due to his fast action, doctors were able to remedy him without any serious complications.
“You cannot ‘catch’ flesh-eating bacteria. The infection from the bacteria did not reach the point of it causing Necrotising Fasciitis and actually destroying my muscle tissue and arm only because I acted quickly on getting medical treatment. As quickly as it was spreading, only half a day or so more could have made some serious life-altering changes to my body.”
Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t the same for Lynn Flemming, who reportedly died this week due to complications after amputating her leg that was infected with necrotizing fasciitis.
A small cut in her leg caused the bacteria to thrive and eat their way on her leg to the extent that antibiotics cannot act faster compared to the rate of how the bacteria was moving, which eventually required the amputation. She was swimming at Coquina Beach.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a severe illness that requires care in a hospital. Antibiotics and surgery are typically the first lines of defense if a doctor suspects a patient has necrotizing fasciitis, the US CDC notes.
“Sometimes, however, antibiotics cannot reach all of the infected areas because the bacteria have killed too much tissue and reduced blood flow. When this happens, doctors have to surgically remove the dead tissue. It is not unusual for someone with necrotizing fasciitis to end up needing multiple surgeries.”
Furthermore, while anyone can get necrotizing fasciitis, it is rare, but people with compromised immune systems can be more prone to the bacteria than others. Individually, people with diabetes, kidney disease, cirrhosis, and cancer can contract the bacteria.