The Florida Department of Health reported 65 Vibrio Vulnificus infections and 11 fatalities following Hurricane Ian, in 2022. Lee County, where the category 4 hurricane made landfall, accounted for 45% of the occurrences. 

In development covered by USA Today this year (2023), a harrowing situation has unfolded as five individuals in Florida succumb to the deadly Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria, commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. This article will tell you about the condition, the symptoms, and the best treatment technique.

What Is Necrotizing Fasciitis, The Flesh-Eating Bacteria?

Necrotizing fasciitis is an unusual skin and tissue infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria. It can be lethal if not treated quickly since it spreads quickly and brutally in an infected person.

However, necrotizing fasciitis is a condition that can be cured. Only a few uncommon bacterial strains may cause it, but because these infections spread quickly, the sooner one receives hospital treatment, the higher the odds of survival. The infection can reuse considerable tissue damage by destroying the tissues beneath the skin as well as those surrounding muscles and organs, requiring surgery or amputation in some cases.

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What Is Vibrio Vulnificus And How Does It Progress To Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Vibrio Vulnificus is a bacteria, which has a natural habitat in seawater. It can infect people who have open wounds that have been exposed to saltwater, as well as anyone who consumes raw or undercooked seafood that has been infected with the bacteria. During the warmer summer months, the bacteria population grows, and it may also increase if sewage runs into coastal oceans, as happened during Hurricane Ian. 

Because Vibrio Vulnificus is a rapidly spreading bacteria that are difficult to identify, a lack of effective health care allows the condition to proceed to necrotizing fasciitis and it has a 33% fatality rate. 

What Are The Causes For Necrotizing Fasciitis?

The most typical route for bacteria to enter your body is through a cut in your skin, but it can happen if you suffer a trauma that fails to break the skin. A compromised immune system and certain conditions may increase your chances of contracting flesh-eating bacteria as well, for example: diabetes, cancer, cirrhosis, heart disease, and many others.

Several kinds of bacteria cause necrotizing fasciitis, but the majority of occurrences are caused by group A strep or Streptococcus Pyogenes. 

What Are The Necrotizing Fasciitis Symptoms?

The initial signs of a flesh-eating bacteria infection generally occur during the first 24 hours of infection. The symptoms are comparable to those of other illnesses such as the flu or a minor skin infection.

First Symptoms

  • Pain;
  • Nausea;
  • Fever;
  • Discomfort;
  • Inflammation.

More Advanced Symptoms

  • Pain surrounding the incision worsens;
  • According to the wound, the pain is worse than imagined;
  • Around the wound, there is redness and a fever-like warmth;
  • Still suffering from flu symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, fever, disorientation, weakness, and malaise;
  • Dehydration.

Severe Symptoms Include

  • Swelling and purplish color around the wound; 
  • Changes in color, peeling, and flakiness occur as a result of tissue necrosis (gangrene);
  • Large violet-colored marks that grow into blisters with a foul-smelling black fluid;
  • A significant decline in blood pressure;
  • A shock from toxins;
  • Unconsciousness.

How Does Necrotizing Fasciitis Treatment Work?

To try to stop the infection, doctors can inject antibiotics through a needle into a vein (IV antibiotics). However, antibiotics may be unable to reach the affected area because the bacteria have destroyed too much tissue and compromised the blood flow, necessitating surgery to remove dead tissue. It is not unusual for someone with necrotizing fasciitis to undergo many surgeries. 

Other Possible Treatments

  • Medications used to increase blood pressure;
  • Blood transfusion;
  • Affected limbs can be amputated; 
  • To protect healthy tissue, hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be indicated;
  • Cardiac monitoring and breathing assistance;
  • Immunoglobulin is administered intravenously to improve the immune system’s ability to combat illness.

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