Flesh Eating Bacteria Kills Canadian Woman
We don't often hear big news stories about flesh eating diseases, but considering how frightening they really are, you'd think that we would. This June, a Canadian woman lost her 15-month battle with a rare form of a flesh eating disease. The trouble began when she came down with what appeared to be a serious case of the flu, and continued to worsen as she narrowly avoided death. In 2008, the 33 year old lost a leg to gastric gangrene. Her death is a stark reminder of the power of untamed infection.
"Keep any open and vulnerable wounds clean and covered as much as possible!"
Flesh eating disease, or necrotizing fasciitis, is a very serious disease. It kills about 30 percent of the people that contract it, and can happen to anyone, even if they are in excellent health. The following factors make people especially at risk:
Weak immune system and a lack of antibodies
Diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or cancer
Open cuts and/or surgical wounds, including those from giving birth
Recent viral infections that cause a rash
Steroid medications that hinder infection resistance
How Does this Happen?
There are a number of different bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, and generally they are relatively mild. However, in certain cases the bacteria get under the skin, cause toxins that can damage the tissue there, and produce more dangerous infections that spread quickly to the muscle tissue. Worse, these bacteria can get into the blood to reach vital organs. One means of infection is through wounds exposed to salt water or salt water sea life. Another way is when the dangerous bacteria thrive in the gut after an injury, surgery, or tumor in the digestive tract. It is possible for a flesh eating disease to enter through muscle strains or bruises, and certain bacteria can be spread from person to person.
What are the Symptoms?
- An injury that improves in a couple of days, and then suddenly worsens to a point unreasonable for the size of the wound
- Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Skin that is red, swollen, and hot to the touch
- Serious illness and shock
- Organ failure
Left untreated, the infection can eventually lead to death. Rapid hospitalization is usually of the utmost importance. There are a few simple steps that can help to protect you from a flesh eating disease. First and foremost, keep open and vulnerable wounds clean and covered as much as possible, especially if you are going into unfamiliar and heavily populated areas, such as airports and amusement parks. Do not engage in close touching with strangers and questionable surfaces. And of course, wash your hands often. If you must be around someone who is known to have this sort of bacteria, it is a good idea to avoid any contact with their mouth, nose, or any bodily fluids (especially from a wound). Go to a heath care professional right away if you are unable to keep to these guidelines. Remember that the likelihood of you picking up a flesh eating bacteria is very slim, and isn't a reason to stay away from public places. Still, awareness is the best prevention, so take care to protect yourself!