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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 2:10 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2019 2:10 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!"

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 582576

Reported Deaths: 7284
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1208311715
Ramsey50357867
Dakota45046442
Anoka40774432
Washington26338278
Stearns21901220
St. Louis17502302
Scott16980124
Wright15722135
Olmsted1309797
Sherburne1139484
Carver1031645
Clay807492
Rice7952106
Blue Earth739241
Crow Wing651888
Kandiyohi647282
Chisago581051
Otter Tail567578
Benton560197
Goodhue470872
Mower460332
Douglas459574
Winona448450
Itasca417953
McLeod417258
Morrison413660
Isanti408262
Nobles406748
Beltrami387358
Steele381015
Polk379567
Becker375449
Lyon357650
Carlton340353
Freeborn339529
Pine323521
Nicollet320943
Brown303040
Mille Lacs297152
Le Sueur285322
Todd277431
Cass265528
Meeker250140
Waseca235721
Martin227731
Roseau205019
Wabasha20313
Hubbard183341
Dodge18133
Renville178043
Redwood170836
Houston169215
Cottonwood162721
Fillmore153810
Pennington153319
Wadena152321
Chippewa151338
Faribault149919
Kanabec142424
Sibley140910
Aitkin133136
Watonwan13009
Rock127219
Jackson121211
Pipestone113826
Yellow Medicine113520
Pope10806
Murray10559
Swift103918
Stevens88511
Marshall87417
Clearwater85716
Koochiching81314
Lake80619
Wilkin79812
Lac qui Parle74922
Big Stone5934
Lincoln5733
Grant5648
Mahnomen5408
Norman5379
Unassigned48893
Kittson48122
Red Lake3957
Traverse3685
Lake of the Woods3183
Cook1560

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 364579

Reported Deaths: 5902
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57228619
Linn20701333
Scott19754239
Black Hawk15746307
Woodbury15087228
Johnson1439083
Dubuque13322209
Dallas1109597
Pottawattamie11036166
Story1054248
Warren572988
Clinton551692
Cerro Gordo535689
Sioux512474
Webster510892
Marshall480875
Muscatine473899
Des Moines451466
Wapello4283122
Buena Vista424140
Jasper413070
Plymouth400179
Lee372355
Marion360075
Jones296857
Henry290437
Carroll284752
Bremer282460
Crawford264340
Boone262334
Benton254955
Washington253050
Dickinson247343
Mahaska229250
Jackson220742
Clay214725
Kossuth214764
Tama208871
Delaware208040
Winneshiek196433
Page192121
Buchanan190431
Cedar188823
Fayette184441
Hardin184443
Wright183336
Hamilton179249
Harrison179173
Clayton168756
Butler163834
Mills161321
Madison160319
Floyd159542
Cherokee158338
Lyon157541
Poweshiek154633
Allamakee150351
Iowa147924
Hancock146434
Winnebago140831
Cass137654
Grundy135932
Calhoun135813
Emmet133740
Jefferson132135
Shelby130537
Sac130019
Appanoose128047
Louisa127849
Union127632
Mitchell125642
Chickasaw123615
Guthrie120729
Humboldt118726
Franklin116421
Palo Alto112123
Howard104122
Montgomery102737
Unassigned10070
Clarke99624
Keokuk95331
Monroe95028
Ida90334
Adair86232
Pocahontas85422
Monona82830
Davis81324
Osceola77916
Greene77610
Lucas76823
Worth7348
Taylor65612
Fremont6219
Decatur6059
Van Buren55618
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Wayne53223
Audubon5069
Adams3374
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