How Common is the Flesh Eating Disease?

How common is the flesh-eating disease? It’s actually very rare (only about 9,000-11,500 cases in the U.S. are reported each year according to the Center for Disease Control) but the disease appears to be becoming more common than in the past.

Dr. Alan Bisno, a retired University of Miami expert who has lectured other doctors on this, told the Associated Press: “In the first 20 years I practiced, I may have seen one case. Within a very few years, everybody in the audience had all seen cases.”

The increasing number of flesh-eating bacteria infections could be traced to the drug-resistance developed by some superbugs. From the AP:

It used to be caused almost exclusively by one type of strep bacteria. Now there’s a scary trend: drug-resistant superbugs like the staph germ MRSA increasingly are able to make “flesh-eating” toxins and cause nightmarish infections…

As we mentioned in prior posts, anyone – from superstars like Michael Jackson, to Nobel prize winners like Eric Cornell to ordinary people like Katy Hayes – can get infected with the flesh-eating bacteria. People can also contract the disease anywhere – from kitchens, to beaches, to hospitals.

Now, the AP reports of a woman who contracted the disease while giving birth at the hospital where she worked as a nurse:

Waking from a fog of anesthesia, Sandy Wilson found she was a patient in one of the hospitals where she worked as a nurse. She remembered having a baby, and being told she had gotten an infection. But nothing could prepare her for what lurked beneath the sheets.

Flesh-eating bacteria were eating her alive.

“When I looked down at my belly, basically all the skin was gone and I could see my internal organs,” she said. “I remember seeing my intestines. I thought, ‘There’s no way I can live like this … This is a death sentence.'”

In all of medicine, few infections are as feared as this one. It strikes out of the blue, especially obese people, diabetics, cancer patients, transplant recipients and others with weak immune systems — a growing group of Americans. It kills 20 percent of its victims and horribly disfigures others.

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