Freaked Out by Flesh-Eating Bacteria Disease? Here’s What You Need to Know

Leg getting wrapped in gauzeBy Heather M. Graham

Although it's rare, two cases of flesh-eating bacteria have been in the news lately after a student and a new mom were recently diagnosed with the infection. Called necrotizing fasciitis, flesh-eating bacteria can enter an open wound (regardless of its size) and begin to destroy skin, fat and other tissue, and it spreads fast. It's incredibly dangerous, too -- it can lead to gangrene, organ failure and roughly one in four patients die from the infection.

New mom Lana Kuykendall wasn't even out of the hospital for a full day after giving birth to twins in South Carolina when she noticed a painful lesion on her leg. Within the six hours it took to get Kuykendall to the emergency room and into the operating room the infection had spread to her whole leg. The infected tissue was removed and for now has stopped the spread of the bacteria.

Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old graduate student at the University of West Georgia, suffered more severe complications. Two weeks after cutting her leg in a zip-lining accident, the stitched-up gash began hurting more and antibiotics were failing to treat the infection, which had yet to be diagnosed as necrotizing fasciitis. Copeland was taken to the emergency room and within days most of her left leg was amputated. Now she will likely need to have her fingers removed because the flesh-eating baceteria spread to her hands.

What are the symptoms of flesh-eating bacteria? How is it treated? Are there any precautions you can take to prevent getting it? Click here for the answers you need know.

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