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Maryland boy victim of flesh-eating bacteria after a swim off the coast of Maryland

Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria, is an infection that damages soft tissue, affecting one in 100,000 people globally each year.

Posted: Jul 3, 2019 3:10 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2019 3:10 PM

A mother said her son was covered in wounds from flesh-eating bacteria the day following a swim off the coast of Maryland, according to CNN Affiliate WJZ-TV in Baltimore. Peninsula Regional Health System physicians diagnosed the boy with Vibrio, Brittany Carey shared in her Facebook post on Saturday.

Vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with vibriosis become infected either by consuming raw or undercooked seafood or by exposing an open wound to seawater.

In her post, Carey explained that her parents took her son swimming last Monday in the Bay near Ocean City, close to the Harry W. Kelley Drawbridge on Route 50. Later that evening, "I started noticing little spots developing all over his body," Carey wrote.

The following morning, "there were open wounds developing," she said. She believed, then, that her son had been scratching the spots, "making them worse." Later, though, she discovered the wounds had grown larger and increased in number.

"Off to the hospital we went," she said. There they were told "it was really nothing" and this was followed by a prescription for "an antibiotic that only made it worse." A second visit to Peninsula Regional Health System came up with the right diagnosis and treatment.

Along with her thoughts, Carey shared photos of her son's wounds in the hopes that "it would be a great PSA for everyone to see."

Most vibrio infections occur between May and October when water temperatures are warm. Flesh-eating bacteria stop blood circulation and cause tissue to die and skin to decay, according to the CDC. More than one type of bacteria can eat the flesh in this way; Public health experts believe that group A Streptococcus bacteria are the most common cause of these infections. Vibrio infections occur when someone eats raw or undercooked seafood or when an open wound becomes wet with seawater or brackish water.

Dr. Stephen Spann, dean of the University of Houston College of Medicine, said that having a wound exposed to brackish water where these bacteria live is one way to get an infection; eating contaminated shellfish -- "oysters, primarily" -- is another.

Blunt trauma that doesn't tear the skin can also permit entry of flesh-eating bacteria, according to the CDC. Several antibiotics can treat these injuries, though when cases become severe, skin grafts and surgeries may be necessary.

"Your average healthy person is probably not at huge risk," Spann said, noting that the vulnerable include "people who have some sort of a chronic disease that suppresses their immune function, or maybe they are on immunosuppressive drugs like corticosteroids. Or they have liver disease or a disease called hemochromatosis," a disease that causes an overload of iron in the blood.

No matter your risk, good wound care is the best way to prevent any bacterial skin infection, according to the CDC. It is important to clean even minor cuts and injuries that break the skin with soap and water. Always clean and cover draining or open wounds with dry bandages until they heal. And see a doctor for puncture and other deep or serious wounds.

"Please be careful out there guys and if you start seeing wounds such as these please get somewhere fast!" wrote Carey. Despite the emergency, all appears to be ending well for her son. In an update, she wrote, "Went to pediatrician this morning and she is really happy with the healing!"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1524527

Reported Deaths: 20751
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2077652558
Lake1010411517
Allen946081024
Hamilton73638551
St. Joseph65362761
Elkhart50026632
Vanderburgh48959530
Tippecanoe44411338
Johnson38772527
Hendricks36850462
Porter34709476
Madison29301547
Clark26328328
Vigo25941346
LaPorte23600313
Monroe23478249
Howard22382381
Delaware21877370
Hancock18857220
Bartholomew18433216
Kosciusko18124203
Warrick17207215
Wayne16474303
Floyd16129257
Grant15566299
Morgan14615232
Boone13622138
Noble11983142
Shelby11877152
Dearborn11825113
Henry11771201
Marshall11444171
Dubois11418152
Jackson10772104
Cass10380143
Lawrence10308221
DeKalb10292132
Huntington10277140
Gibson9749126
Montgomery9377144
Knox9162125
Harrison9157117
Whitley886771
Steuben8739105
Jasper8325116
Putnam8306100
Clinton827596
Miami8249135
Jefferson8030127
Wabash7914139
Ripley7278116
Adams6713103
Daviess6661130
Scott663586
White624484
Greene6159112
Clay615275
Decatur6062120
Wells6001120
Jennings600081
Fayette5886122
Posey561648
LaGrange535797
Randolph5171129
Washington511470
Owen5068100
Fountain482580
Spencer457456
Sullivan449866
Starke443986
Fulton440393
Orange435083
Jay419964
Rush418839
Perry397555
Carroll384549
Franklin382850
Vermillion363562
Pike327845
Parke327338
Tipton320675
Blackford275955
Pulaski275375
Newton235461
Brown233556
Benton221521
Crawford220132
Switzerland201414
Martin191822
Warren179522
Union172619
Ohio125216
Unassigned0759

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2496243

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2696772100
Cuyahoga2600613087
Hamilton1742641756
Montgomery1162791651
Summit1084961418
Lucas929121193
Butler82981963
Stark766321431
Lorain63976809
Warren52895489
Mahoning50955930
Lake47462611
Clermont46371452
Delaware40674220
Trumbull39527790
Licking38492416
Medina38487427
Fairfield35469349
Greene33906435
Portage32283366
Clark31960453
Richland29400444
Wood29143301
Allen25702403
Miami23931408
Muskingum23316255
Columbiana22903409
Wayne21965365
Tuscarawas19512428
Erie18531224
Ashtabula18489362
Marion18456235
Scioto17888214
Ross17287260
Pickaway16251181
Hancock16004232
Geauga15456229
Lawrence14746186
Belmont14033248
Union1403384
Huron13838184
Jefferson13519261
Sandusky13180200
Athens12624107
Knox12037201
Seneca11934204
Darke11316202
Ashland11157184
Washington11009172
Auglaize10785147
Crawford10333178
Shelby10308160
Brown9972145
Fulton9661154
Highland9632151
Guernsey9612122
Defiance9486137
Logan9403147
Clinton9299132
Mercer9015112
Madison8971111
Preble8428170
Williams8263138
Putnam8024136
Champaign7974113
Ottawa7909123
Jackson7763121
Perry7415102
Coshocton7345136
Morrow723984
Fayette703292
Pike658489
Hardin6532133
Gallia634391
Adams6159127
Van Wert6025121
Henry598196
Hocking5835105
Wyandot498894
Carroll4961101
Holmes4857167
Paulding421665
Meigs397774
Monroe313868
Harrison296362
Noble295652
Morgan289448
Vinton254646
Unassigned08
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