Rare Flesh-Eating Bacteria Double Infection Puts Man in Coma

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 04:44 PM

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A rare double case of flesh-eating-bacteria has put a 44-year-old man in a coma — spotlighting how sneaky and devastating infections of so-called necrotizing fasciitis can be, according to a report published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Lead researcher Ilaria Tocco Tussardi, M.D., of the Institute of Plastic Surgery at University Hospital of Padova in Italy, told the LiveScience Website she and her colleagues treated the man after he sought medical care for a fever and severe back pain.

His doctor had prescribed stronger painkillers, but they didn't help. Within six hours, the man's left arm turned red and began to swell, and he was transferred to the emergency room.

There, doctors conducted a CT scan and diagnosed the double infection.

Most likely, the bacteria entered the man's bloodstream from one of two skin infections he had, then spread to the other, Dr. Tocco said. He underwent three operations and surgeons amputated his arm to halt the infection, but he slipped into a coma.

Flesh-eating bacterial infections are very rare — striking just four in 1 million adults every year.

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