Flesh-eating bacteria: What you need to know

Flesh-eating bacteria: What you need to know
Necrotizing fasciitis is a bacterial infection that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is extremely rare in the United States.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Already this year, there have been reports of people picking up flesh eating bacteria in gulf waters.

While it obviously does happen, doctors also add it is rare.

“In all honesty, the kind that usually reaches the news that’s related to ocean water kind of the gulf, is even rarer. It’s a rarer form of flesh eating bacteria then what is common, which is group A strep. Which is just a kind of fancy form of strep that you get through the mouth,” said Dr. Jordan Vaughn, with MedHelp.

He adds many times when people come into contact with the bacteria in the water, it’s not usually on the ocean front.

"It kind of lives in estuary parts of where freshwater and saltwater kind of mix. Basically, your typical bay or inter-coastal water way kind of area,” said Vaughn.

Some of the incidents this year have happened in areas of where the warm gulf waters intermix with fresh waters flowing from land.

Those people most at risk for catching the bacteria are people who have such things as liver disorders or compromised immune systems.

When it does take hold, it can be life threatening.

“Bacteria that eats flesh, and by flesh, eats not only the skin, but the tissue, the muscle. And the only way you can take care of it is you have to-it’s almost like stopping a fire. You have to stop the line and that’s why it usually requires immediate surgical management,” said Vaughn.

When vacationing this summer, prevention starts with common sense.

If you have an open wound or cut, don’t get into the water. Often times, that is how the bacteria invades your body.

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