It all started with a bike accident. Eight-year-old Liam Flanagan fell off from his bike and needed stitches after a piece of the handle gouged in his thigh.
Eight days later, he died of necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating infection. The infection can quickly kill the soft tissues around muscles, fat, nerves, and blood vessels, which could become deadly in just a short period of time.
Bacteria Entered Through The Boy's Wound
Doctors think that the bacteria entered the child's body through the wound from the soil that he landed on.
"It wasn't a big deal. It wasn't a bad one. It just needed a few stitches is all, that's it," Liam's mother, Sara Hebard related. "And he was taking it like a trooper. I mean, how... how... that's what I ask - how? And there's just no answer."
Many cases of flesh-eating infections did not seem serious at the start. A 32-year old man from Florida initially complained about blisters on his foot only to find out later that he was infected with flesh-eating bacteria.
A 4-year-old child contracted the infection after falling over in the garden and bumped his head.
A new mother had to have her limbs removed after contracting the bacteria when she gave birth.
A mosquito bite or even a simple paper cut can put anyone at risk of flesh-eating bacteria because these can get into the body through open wounds. Some precautions, however, can reduce the risk of contracting necrotizing fasciitis.
How To Avoid Flesh-Eating Infection
Basic hygiene offers protection from the deadly infection. Good basic hygiene and wound care can help protect the wound from getting contaminated with any bacteria. The wound needs to be properly cleaned with the foreign bodies removed, stitched if necessary, and dressed.
The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Preventions advises washing the hands often using soap and water or using an alcohol-based rub if washing is not possible.
The bacteria behind necrotizing fasciitis also like water, so anyone with an open wound should avoid swimming in a lake or hitting up the hot tub.
Increase in pain, lesions and spots, discolorations, changes in the skin's temperature, flu-like symptoms, and nausea warrant a visit to the doctor.
"Necrotizing fasciitis can be deadly in a very short amount of time. Accurate diagnosis, prompt antibiotic treatment (medicine that kills bacteria in the body), and surgery are important to stopping this infection," the CDC said.