• Fleshing eating bacteria is rare, but deadly; Jacksonville doctor explains dangers, symptoms

    By: Nora Clark , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 7/16/19

    News reports about people contracting flesh-eating bacteria have filled the headlines and social media feeds recently in conjunction with the start of summer. 

    Action News Jax reporter Bridgette Matter spoke with a Jacksonville doctor about what exactly flesh-eating bacteria is and the signs and symptoms to look for.

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    QUICK FACTS: 

    • More than one type of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, known as "flesh-eating bacteria", according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Necrotizing means causing the death of tissues, and fasciitis means the inflammation of the fascia, which is the tissue under the skin that surrounds muscles, nerves, fat and blood cells, according to the CDC. 
    • The bacteria can most commonly enter the body through a break in the skin like cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds and/or surgical wounds, according to the CDC. 
    • The CDC says symptoms can develop quickly and include: 
      • A red, swollen area of skin  that spreads quickly
      • Severe pain
      • Fever
      • Onset symptoms include: 
        • Ulcers, blisters, or black spots
        • Changes in the color of the skin
        • Pus or oozing from the infected area
        • Dizziness
        • Fatigue
        • Diarrhea or nausea
    • If you have an open wound or skin infection, the CDC recommends avoiding hot tubs, swimming pools and natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans). 
    • Necrotizing Fasciitis is rare, but more common for people with diabetes, kidney diseas, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and cancer, according to the CDC. 
    • Since 2010, approximately 700 to 1200 cases occur each year in the United States.

    Dr. Jennifer Chapman who works as an ER doctor at Orange Park Medical Center says while contracting the bacteria is rare, everyone should take precautions and not get into the water with an open wound, or after shaving. 

    "So typically if a woman shaves her legs or a man shaves his face, you may want to wait a good 24 hours before going in the warm salt water. " 

    To check for health advisories at your local  beach click here.

    RELATED: Woman contracts flesh-eating infection after Virginia beach outingFlorida woman dies of flesh-eating bacteria after a fall on Gulf Coast beach | 'Within 48 hours he was gone:' Tennessee man dies from flesh-eating bacteria in Gulf waters | Family says girl contracted flesh-eating disease at Florida beach | Florida man recovers after contracting flesh-eating bacteria on spring break

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