Woman Dies After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria During Vacation: How To Protect Yourself From Necrotizing Fasciitis


A woman from Indianapolis died on Saturday after contracting flesh-eating bacteria during a vacation in Florida.

Carol Martin traveled to Clearwater, Florida, for a vacation with her family and to watch racing in February. After her family returned from the trip, Carol noticed she had a sore on her buttock that looked like a pimple.

Carol had the sore checked by the doctor twice, but she was sent home prescribed with antibiotics and advised to use a heating pad. The infection, however, worsened, and biopsy revealed that Carol actually contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection also known as flesh-eating disease.

Carol was hospitalized as her symptoms worsened and spent more than two weeks at the intensive care unit, but she eventually died.

Prompt Treatment Needed

Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial for treating necrotizing fasciitis since it can be deadly in a short span of time.

"The first line of defense against this disease is strong antibiotics given through a needle into a vein (IV antibiotics)," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Doctors often use surgery — in addition to antibiotics — to remove dead tissue. This surgery is often critical to stop the infection and must happen quickly."

Bacteria In Water

Richard Martin, Carol's husband, thinks his wife's infection stemmed from her getting into the hot tub.

The CDC said that the common way that bacteria gets into the body is through a break in the skin such as a scrape, cut, burn, or bite.

The CDC warned people with open wound or skin infections not to spend time in hot tubs, swimming pools and natural bodies of water, which could be teeming with bacteria. Hot tubs in particular can be prone to bacterial growth.

"Bacteria will grow when the water chemistry is not properly balanced. What you can't see is the scary stuff about pools," said Greg Agerskov, owner of pool maintenance company The Pool Surfers. "Hot tubs are a smaller body of water and they're heated upwards of 100 degrees, which means bacteria can grow even faster there."

Agerskov advised checking the tub for red flags such as cloudy or green water. He warned that many people do not empty spas on regular water.

Other Ways To Avoid Necrotizing Fasciitis

The CDC also advised proper wound care, as well as not delaying first aid of non-infected wounds such as scrapes and blisters.

People with strong immune system and those who observe good hygiene also tend to have lower odds of contracting the infection. People with diabetes, kidney disease, and other health problems that weaken their immune system may have lowered ability to fight infection.

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