Written by Joseph Mercola, D.O., Ph.D.
As temperatures along the coastal waters of the U.S. get warmer, cases of flesh-eating bacteria continue to rise. The flesh-eating disease — medically known as necrotizing fasciitis — recently claimed a Florida woman’s life, who died just days after walking along a popular Gulf of Mexico beach near her home in St. Petersburg, according to CBS News.
Victims of the dreadful flesh-eating bacteria have been reported on all coastal waters in the U.S.
Flesh-eating disease is a rare but deadly bacterial infection that kills the body’s soft tissue that, in some cases, has caused the victims death within hours. Necrotizing fasciitis kills about 1 in 4 people infected with it.
The disease is caused by a number of different bacteria.
To avoid contracting this deadly bacteria, stay away from beaches and brackish waters if you have a compromised immune system or a cut, wound or sore of any kind — no matter how small.
However, you don’t have to be near coastal waters to get a flesh-eating disease. Cellulitis and MRSA — an antibiotic-resistant bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — can both lead to necrotizing fasciitis if precautions are not taken during treatment.
Flesh-eating disease is often confused with MRSA, and, although it’s possible, most MRSA cases do not lead to the flesh-eating disease.
Symptoms of MRSA sometimes begin with skin conditions such as boils, impetigo or cellulitis. About 1 in 25 hospital patients will contract a MRSA infection, and many of these infectious pathogens are now resistant to all antibiotics. Antibiotic overuse, especially in agriculture, has led to an increase in MRSA cases.
Hospital-acquired infections kill 75,000 patients each year in the U.S. — a death toll that could be significantly reduced simply by medical personnel and patients following proper handwashing protocols.
Cellulitis — a serious bacterial infection of the skin — may lead to several life-threatening conditions and flesh-eating disease may actually be caused by cellulitis.
Cellulitis is a disease that affects the deep layers and the fatty and soft layers beneath your skin. It occurs when pathogenic bacteria manage to seep into your broken skin.
Cellulitis symptoms begin with a small painful area that typically spreads to the surrounding tissues. Redness, swelling and warmth may also manifest, along with fever, blisters and, in some cases, swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms may occur gradually or appear all at once.
Cellulitis is not contagious — although the bacteria that causes this ailment can be passed from one person to another if precautions are not taken — and is not a rare condition, although flesh-eating disease is relatively rare.
If proper care is not adhered to in the treatment of cellulitis, it can morph into flesh-eating bacteria.
As with any infectious disease, make sure that you — and the medical staff — are following handwashing procedures anytime you are in contact with one another.