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Breakdown: Why some cases of flesh-eating bacteria are rising

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 10:48 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -The cases of flesh-eating bacteria has gone up slightly. Some scientist are blaming climate change for the increase.

Some scientist believe this may only be the begining of the rise with temperatures continually warming in the Gulf of Mexico. According to research these warmer temperatures provide the right environment for this type of bacteris to grow.

The warmer waters are causing the bacteria to thrive for longer periods.

The flesh-eating bacteria isn’t caused by the same bacteria found in red tide blooms that coastal residents sometimes see according to scientist. However, the bacteria of blue-green algae and red tide are closely related to that of the flesh-eating bacteria. With red-tide present in coastal waters this has allowed for a lot more dead fish which means the bacteria has more to eat.

The flesh-eating bacteria is known as necrotizing fasciitis is caused by bacteria that stops blood circulation, which causes tissue to die and skin to decay. It is referred to as the “flesh-eating” because the infection progresses fast according to doctors. According to physicians even those with treatment have one in three chance of dying from the bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2010, the agency reports, between 700 and 1,200 people a year have contracted the infection in the United States. Cases have been steadily increasing in coastal areas over the past year.

According to physicians most healthy adults will be able to fight off the infection without going to the hospital but seniors, kids and people with weakened immune systems or other issues are more susceptible to the infection. According to doctors the best way to avoid it is by proper handwashing.

The flesh-eating bacteria lives and breeds in warm and brackish water, and can infect someone by entering through a cut or scrape. Some can can also contract it by eating raw seafood, like oysters or sushi, infected with the bacteria. The warmer the water the better it is for the bacteria to grow and thrive.Researchers linked the rise to warming waters from climate change.

When infected swelling occurs immediately and blisters can form over the wound site. Those who have the infection may experience flu-like symptoms or fever, dizziness and cold sweats. Severe complications are common, like sepsis, shock and organ failure.

As the water continues to warm over time, scientist believe that cases will continue to rise.

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