'Flesh-eating' bacteria common, experts say

The “flesh-eating” bacteria that has brought nationwide attention to some being treated at Augusta’s Joseph M. Still Burn Center is not unusual, experts say.

 

Also known as necrotizing fasciitis, Aeromonas hydrophila is caused by fairly common bacteria called group A streptococcus that are typically found on the skin or in the throat.

Most of the infections from the bacteria are fairly mild, such as “strep throat” and impetigo or an itchy skin rash.

In about 9,000 to 11,500 cases a year, the bacteria get into the bloodstream, through a sore or a cut, and become invasive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 6 percent to 7 percent of those cases, it attacks the lining of flesh and muscles and becomes necrotizing fasciitis, the CDC said.

While it can be treated with antibiotics, surgery to remove infected tissue sometimes becomes necessary.

About 25 percent of the cases are fatal, according to the CDC.

Overall, invasive group A strep infections cause up to 1,800 deaths a year, according to the CDC.

 

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