It sounds like a horror movie, but it’s real life: A second man has now contracted necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating disease caused by a type of dangerous bacteria that destroys skin, muscle, and fat tissues.
The latest victim, Ohio native Barry Briggs, spent 11 days in Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, after developing necrotizing fasciitis during a boating trip in Tampa Bay in March, reported Ohio TV station WKYT. His infection was reportedly caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.
It’s unclear exactly how Briggs picked up the flesh-eating bacteria in Florida, but according to the CDC, group A Streptococcus is believed to be one of the most common causes of necrotizing fasciitis.
Briggs and his family have started a Facebook page to raise awareness about his condition, and they’ve posted graphic photos showing the frightening spread of the bacteria, which tore off nearly all of the skin on Briggs’ left foot.
Fisherman Mike Walton contracted necrotizing fasciitis a week before Briggs did. The Ozona, Florida, native was rushed to the hospital as he developed symptoms of the disease after he cut his hand with a fishing hook.
Necrotizing fasciitis is rare but very serious. The bacteria that cause it typically enter the body through a cut, burn, or insect bite, but the bugs can also get in a person’s system via any puncture wound that can allows them access to the bloodstream.
Initial symptoms of the infection include red or swollen skin in the affected area, severe pain, and a fever. As it progresses, necrotizing fasciitis can cause oozing pus, color changes on the skin, and skin ulcers.
Antibiotics are used to treat the infection, but if the bacteria have destroyed too much tissue, doctors may need to remove the dead tissue to prevent the spread of the infection, states the CDC. In some cases, necrotizing fasciitis can cause sepsis, organ failure, and death.
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