Hippocrates documented one of the first cases of flesh-eating bacteria in the 5th century BC. J.-C., and a surgeon of the Civil War Army identified him among thousands of Confederate soldiers.
SARASOTA – The flesh-eating bacteria that has alarmed beach lovers in Florida has been around since ancient times.
Scattered throughout the annals of medical history, the flesh virus, rampant gangrene and now the flesh-eating bacterium, or necrotizing fasciitis – invented in 1952 – is described as a deadly tissue disease that had been mentioned for the first time by Hippocrates in the fifth century. Before Christ
Civil War Army surgeon, Joseph Jones, described the illness that killed 1,215 out of 2,642 infected Confederate soldiers, the National Institute of Health said. He called it "hospitable gangrene".
According to the Center for Disease Control, necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads rapidly in the body and can lead to death. According to the Florida Department of Health, this bacteria is a secondary symptom of many common bacteria in our environment.
Among them are group A streptococcus – the most common cause of minor diseases such as strep throat – and Vibrio vulnificus, a naturally occurring bacterium in warm, salty water and berries.
"Vibrio vulnificus can cause the death of flesh around the open wound," said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. "The majority of patients infected with V. vulnificus are hospitalized, and about 1 in 5 people with this infection die, sometimes a day or two after becoming ill."
Necrotizing fasciitis develops after the offending bacteria have entered the body through skin lesions such as cuts and abrasions, burns, insect bites, perforating wounds and surgical wounds. People can also contract the disease as a result of a blunt trauma that does not break the skin.
The first signs of the fast-spreading disease are redness, swelling and pain near scratches and open wounds. If you notice any blisters or symptoms followed by fever, nausea, vomiting and flu-like symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Those most at risk are very young children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune symptoms.
Necrotizing fasciitis can be treated with antibiotics and may sometimes require surgery to remove damaged tissue, says the FDOH.
For the surgeon, it is one of the most difficult infections, sometimes costing the lives or lives of patients, warned the National Institute of Health.
Recent cases of the disease in Florida have followed visits to the Gulf beaches.
Earlier this summer, Carolyn "Lynn" Fleming of Ellenton died after being injured in the leg during a walk on Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. She had two strokes and kidney failure. Despite surgical interventions to fight the infection, she died two weeks after her fall.
More cases have been reported in Siesta Key, Manasota Key and Turtle Beach in Sarasota County.
G. Steven Huard, DODF spokesperson in Sarasota County, said people can protect themselves through awareness of the situation. They should not be afraid to go to the beach.
"You must know yourself and know your own health," said Huard. "If you are a normally healthy person and there are no cuts or bruises in your body, there is really no reason not to go to the beach." Millions of people go there every weekend If you are an immunocompromised person and have health problems, whatever they are, and you have cuts and injuries on you, it's a good time to stay out of water. "
Hot weather and low salinity promote bacterial growth, Huard said. At the state level, temperatures in the Gulf have peaked at 89 degrees this summer.
"It's a good time of year to pay attention to the environmental conditions in which we live," he said.
Carlos R. Munoz is a reporter at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.