Flesh-Eating Bacteria

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Some call it “horror” and some call it “the super germ”, but now, our always known “regular” bacteria, those one-celled creatures once considered under control with antibiotics, have invaded our hospitals and headlines with a vengeance. The vengeance used against us is caused by an existing organism called necrotizing fasciitis, the so-called flesh-eating bacteria, caused by Group A streptococcus. What this organism does is progressively destroy the human body tissue all the way to the bone. This organism has amazingly outsmarted us of even our most potent drugs. In our community right now, medical researchers are testing antibiotics that may have chemicals to disable the resistance of this organism. But while research continues, it is vital to be aware of how these deadly germs spread and what we can do to prevent them. Long before humans discovered antibiotics, they existed in nature. So naturally, after penicillin was introduced, some germs were already naturally resistant to the drug. As we used more and more of the antibiotics, we incidentally caused drug-resistant germs to progress. So, even if you’ve never misused antibiotics, you could still become infected by bacterium most drugs won’t kill. For each drug, there are germs genetically programmed to survive- some w/ outer walls tough for antibiotic to cross, others with ways to dump the drugs back out before they can work, and yet others can inactivate the antibiotic. Even worse, by passing tiny packets of genetic material to other bacteria, these survivor germs sometimes also pass the formula for resistance to the other bacteria. The best way you can protect yourself and your family against drug-resistant bacteria is by using antibiotics correctly. Taking them when they’re not needed encourages the takeover of drug-resistant strains in your body. (Redbook, pg.95) That’s because when antibiotics are given, the normal bacteria in your body are killed off, leaving lots of bacterial “parking spaces” open. And the germ left to fill them is the drug-resistant ones. (Redbook, pg.95) So far, antibiotic resistance has not been a big problem with streptococcus A, the germ familiar to all of us for causing millions of cases of strep throat and impetigo each year. However, a germ does not need to be drug-resistant to turn lethal. Each year one form of strep A invades the bodies of thousands of people and lets out toxins capable of causing shock and organ failure as you will read about later. Many others are infected by strep that destroys muscle and fat,

resulting in the dreaded flesh-eating disease. Those that it infects in this manner need surgery to cut out the infected tissue because drugs may not work fast enough to neutralize the toxins. This deadly strep is more likely to infect when surgery or wounds that go deep into the tissue are exposed to germs on the skin, or in people with weakened immune systems. But be aware that also recent cases found from the flesh-eating bacteria have included wounds as minor as pimples or razor nicks. This flesh-eating strep can actually happen to anybody. To be prepared and protect you and your family, be aware of some signs of the flesh-eating bacteria. Signs include: toxic shock, fever, dizziness, confusion, rash, and abdominal pain. As for children, keep these symptoms in mind and have a particularly close watch for these symptoms if the child has chicken pox. Time is of essence when this bacterial killer strikes, so it’s very important to know how to recognize it and provide the urgent care that you or your family need. If pain that is out of proportion to the size or type of wound occurs that is also a major sign of necrotizing fasciitis. After you have been infected, during the first 24 hours of the infection, the skin around the wound is typically red, shiny, and swollen. The skin soon turns bluish-purple and blisters...
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