Flesh Eating Diseases & Bacteria (Necrotising Fasciitis; MRSA; Etc.)


Gone But Not Forgotten
Aug 18, 2002
Flesh eating disease

Seems to be making a little mystery comeback in Canada:

Flesh-eating disease kills patient

From correspondents in Ottawa
May 3, 2004

A WOMAN has died and another patient is listed in serious condition following a new outbreak of so-called "flesh-eating disease" in Canada.

Both patients were treated at St Joseph's Hospital in Saint John, New Brunswick, where the surviving patient remained in serious condition today with necrotising fasciitis, hospital officials said.

A 37-year-old woman and another patient were discharged from the hospital after undergoing surgery last week, the hospital said. They were both subsequently rushed back to hospital and kept in isolation.

Hospital authorities said some hospital workers and others who might have been in contact with the two had been given antibiotics in the hope of stopping the disease from spreading.

Mecrotising fasciitis begins with streptococcus A bacteria. Most who are exposed to the bacteria don't get sick and even among those who do become ill, very few get flesh-eating disease. The disease however strikes rapidly and is frequently fatal.

In 1994, former federal cabinet minister Lucien Bouchard, then premier of Quebec, lost a leg when he was struck with necrotising fasciitis.

The spokesman at St John's Hospital said it was not yet known how or why the latest outbreak occurred.

Link is dead. No archived version available.

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Flesh-eating disease reported in Nova Scotia

CTV.ca News Staff

An isolated case of flesh-eating disease has been reported in Nova Scotia, the same day health officials in New Brunswick were assuring residents an apparent outbreak of the disease has been contained in that province.

The Canadian Press reports that an unidentified patient in Bridgewater, N.S. has been undergoing treatment for necrotizing fasciitis (or flesh-eating disease) since April 19, and is responding well to antibiotics. No one who came into close contact with the patient has yet shown any symptoms.

According to public health officials, there is no connection between the Bridgewater case and the cluster of cases which killed a 37-year-old woman and made another man very ill in Saint John, N.B.

The two patients known to have contracted the often-deadly bacterial infection both underwent surgery at St. Joseph's Hospital last week, one on April 26, the other on April 27.

The patients were discharged, but both returned to the hospital with symptoms of infection. They were then transferred to the isolation ward at Saint John Regional Hospital.

Debra Brigley died on Friday, leaving her husband Eldon shocked at the sudden tragedy.

"I couldn't believe it happened that fast," he told ATV News. "I had to take her to surgery, I was signing papers because they had to remove this dead tissue. I gave her blood. I was making all these friggin decisions."

It is rare for two cases of the disease to occur at the same time, and that's why the hospital, the province, and Health Canada are monitoring the situation closely.

Despite the investigation, New Brunswick Health Minister Elvy Robichaud said hospitals in the province are safe.

"The medical procedures that Nova Scotia hospitals do are safe, and as has been indicated, every action will be taken to ensure that that remains so," Robichaud told reporters on Monday.

"At this point, we feel we are in control of the situation."

Dr. James O'Brien, chief of staff with the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation, said close to 50 other people were brought back to the hospital to be re-examined.

Of that group, five were kept under observation and put on antibiotics. Three have already been discharged and the other two have tested positive for the bacteria, not the disease. They are expected to be discharged on Tuesday.

Necrotizing fasciitis usually begins with streptococcus A, a common bacterium. Most who are exposed don't get sick. And of those who do develop symptoms, very few get flesh-eating disease.

Once the disease takes hold, the infection spreads through the body quickly. Death can result within 24 hours as a patient's body uses up essential protein in fighting the infection. It is fatal in approximately 20 to 30 per cent of cases.

The highest-profile Canadian victim is former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard, who lost a leg to the disease in 1994.

In Canada, there are about 90-200 cases of necrotizing fasciitis each year.

Link is dead. The MIA news article (quoted in full above) can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
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I did a bit of cleaning up and split off some reports to add to some other for anther threa on yaws (a felsh eating bug hitting pygmies hard):

Link is obsolete. The current link is:

Superbug dodges lab tests

Drug-resistant bacteria may gain foothold if detection fails.
3 May 2004


A new strain of bugs resistant to antibiotics may be eluding routine laboratory tests, microbiologists have warned. Their caution comes shortly after the superbug surfaced for the third time.

The bacterium is a strain of Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause grave hospital infections. Many strains have become resistant to common antibiotics such as penicillin.

Vancomycin is one of the last lines of defence against these bacteria, and health officials had long feared that the bugs would become resistant to this antibiotic by picking up resistance genes from other vancomycin-resistant bugs.

Their fears were realised in July 2002, when the first case of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus, or VRSA, was identified in a Michigan patient. Another case followed in Pennsylvania later that year.

Now a third case has been detected, in the urine of a patient in New York, in March1.

Subsequent analysis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has shown that automated testing machines often fail to identify that the new strain is immune to vancomycin. "It is clear that some systems did not pick it up," says Roberta Carey, chief of the CDC's epidemiology and laboratory branch.

Experts say that this means that other cases of VRSA may be going unnoticed by the widely used machines. "There is concern that this could happen," says Clifford McDonald, a medical epidemiologist also at the CDC.

Although overlooked cases are probably rare, because doctors normally ask for repeated laboratory tests on patients not responding to vancomycin, failure to detect the bug straight away could allow the bacteria time to spread to others.

Cloudy issues

There are two automated laboratory tests that are routinely used to screen bacteria for antibiotic resistance, and the CDC researchers found that neither of them reliably pick up VRSA. In one test, called Microscan, a tray of 96 wells containing increasing concentrations of vancomycin is inoculated with the strain of bug being tested.

If the bacteria grow in a well, the broth turns cloudy, and this change is automatically read by a machine. Bacteria able to flourish in concentrations above a threshold level of vancomycin are flagged as potentially drug resistant, and more thorough checks are carried out.

Carey is not sure why the automated tests are failing to pick up VRSA, and is now carrying out larger trials. One possibility is that the new strain grows relatively slowly, and so it appears to have been killed by the antibiotic. This could be resolved simply by programming the machine to allow a longer incubation time.

Meanwhile, the CDC is advising laboratories to use additional, manual tests for VRSA, such as growing samples on agar jelly soaked in vancomycin. "We have got to get the message out," says McDonald.

There are three drugs that can tackle VRSA, but none of them are ideal: S. aureus is already developing resistance to linezolid and quinupristin-dalfopristin, and is expected to develop immunity to a new drug called daptomycin. "We need new antibiotics, it is as simple as that," says Mark Enright, who studies S. aureus at the University of Bath, UK.

Kacica, M. & McDonald, L.C. MMWR, 53, 322 - 323, (2004).

Link is dead. No archived version available.

From the references above:

Brief Report: Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus --- New York, 2004

Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of hospital- and community-acquired infections (1,2). The development of vancomycin-resistant enterococci in 1988 led the way to the emergence of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) (minimum inhibitory concentration [MIC] >32 µg/mL [3]), first recognized in 2002 (4--7). This report describes the third documented clinical isolate of VRSA from a patient in the United States and provides evidence of failure to detect this VRSA by commonly used automated antimicrobial susceptibility testing.

On March 17, a urine culture obtained from a resident of a long-term--care facility yielded S. aureus. The isolate was tested for antimicrobial susceptibility by using Microscan® overnight panels (Dade Behring, Deerfield, Illinois); vancomycin MIC was 4 µg/mL. Further testing by Etest® (AB Biodisk North America, Inc., Piscataway, New Jersey) indicated that the isolate was resistant to vancomycin (MIC >256 µg/mL). After notification and subsequent analysis by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the isolate was forwarded to CDC, where it was confirmed to be VRSA (vancomycin MIC = 64 µg/mL, using the National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards broth microdilution reference method). The isolate contained both the mecA and vanA genes mediating oxacillin and vancomycin resistance, respectively. The isolate was susceptible to chloramphenicol, linezolid, minocycline, quinupristin-dalfopristin, rifampin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

The patient remains in a long-term--care facility, and NYSDOH is investigating the case. The goals of the investigation include assessment of infection-control practices and whether transmission to other patients, health-care providers, family, and other contacts has occurred. Previous investigations of VRSA demonstrated no transmission among contacts (5,6).

This VRSA isolate appears to be unrelated epidemiologically to the VRSA isolate identified previously in Michigan and Pennsylvania (5,6). Although the New York isolate contained the vanA resistance gene, the vancomycin MIC of the isolate appeared low when tested initially by an automated method. Additional testing at CDC indicated that Microscan® and Vitek® (bioMerieux, Hazelwood, Missouri) testing panels and cards available in the United States did not detect vancomycin resistance in this VRSA isolate. Consequently, additional VRSA infections might have occurred but were undetected by laboratories using automated methods. Potential VRSA isolates should be saved for confirmatory testing, and clinical microbiology laboratories must ensure that they are using susceptibility testing methods that will detect VRSA. The most accurate form of vancomycin susceptibility testing for staphylococci is a nonautomated MIC method (e.g., broth microdilution, agar dilution, or agar-gradient diffusion) in which the organisms are incubated for a full 24 hours before reading results. Therefore, when performing automated susceptibility testing of S. aureus strains, particularly methicillin-resistant S. aureus, laboratories should include a vancomycin-agar screening plate containing 6 µg/mL of vancomycin and examine the plate for growth after 24-hour incubation.

The public health response to identification of this VRSA infection is ongoing. Use of proper infection-control practices and appropriate antimicrobial agent management can help limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms, including VRSA. CDC recommends contact precautions when caring for patients with these infections, including 1) placing the patient in a private room; 2) wearing gloves and a gown during patient contact; 3) washing hands after contact with the patient, infectious body tissues, or fluids; and 4) limiting the use of patient-care items to individual patients. In addition, the number of persons caring for a patient with VRSA or vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus should be minimized (e.g., by assigning dedicated staff to care for the patient)*. Isolation of S. aureus with confirmed or presumptive vancomycin resistance should be reported immediately through state and local health departments to the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC, telephone 800-893-0485.

Reported by: M Kacica, MD, New York State Dept of Health. LC McDonald, MD, Div of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC.


This report is based in part on contributions by C Scott, DJ Bopp, MS, NB Dumas, G Johnson, DJ Kohlerschmidt, P Kurpiel, RJ Limberger, PhD, KA Musser, PhD, B Wallace, MD, P Smith, MD, New York State Dept of Health.


CDC. National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance (NNIS) report, data summary from January 1992--June 2001. Am J Infect Control 2001;29:404--21.

Lowy F. Staphylococcus aureus infections. N Engl J Med 1998;339:520--32.

National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards. Methods for dilution antimicrobial susceptibility tests for bacteria that grow aerobically, 6th ed. Approved standard, M7-A6. Wayne, Pennsylvania: National Committee for Laboratory Standards, 2003.

CDC. Staphylococcus aureus resistant to vancomycin---United States, 2002. MMWR 2002;51:565--7.

CDC. Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus---Pennsylvania, 2002. MMWR 2002;51:902.

Chang S, Sievert DM, Hageman JC, et al. Infection with vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus containing the vanA resistance gene. N Engl J Med 2003;348:1342--7.

Whitener CJ, Park SY, Browne FA, et al. Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the absence of vancomycin exposure. Clin Infect Dis 2004;38:1049--55.


* Additional CDC guidelines for preventing spread of VRSA are available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/vanco/vanco.htm.

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May 30, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE

A vicious skin infection resistant to all but the most powerful antibiotics has jumped out of New York City hospitals and onto the streets.

The "superbug," as health officials refer to it, can cause anything from reddening of the skin, to abscesses, tissue loss, amputation or even death in severe cases, doctors said.

For decades confined to hospitals, where it preyed on patients and built up immunity to antibiotics, the bug - known officially as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA - has also grown in strength.

"Usually with infections you need a break in the skin to pass it," said Dr. Howard Grossman, who has a private practice in Chelsea.

"Not with this. It gets through unbroken skin with casual contact."

The city Department of Health first detected the infections outside hospitals early last year, according to health officials.

Doctors at some clinics, such as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea, are seeing one new case a week, compared with one every two months when the infection first cropped up last year.

"This is something we should be concerned about," said Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, the center's medical director.

Dr. Brian Saltzman of Beth Israel, who has just completed a study of the spread of MRSA outside hospitals, said, "We are seeing very impressive, very large, very difficult-to-treat skin abscesses."

The Department of Health is tracking the outbreak here but declined to provide the number of cases it has found.

Last month, Steven, who asked that his last name not be published, developed what he thought was a pimple on his leg, but it soon grew painful and larger.

Doctors lanced the boil that formed and began antibiotics, but the infection failed to respond and starting growing toward Steven's groin.

"The fact it wasn't responding [to drugs] and it was moving up that way was terrifying," he said. "It was eating up tissue."

After a lengthy hospital stay and five antibiotics - some administered intravenously and one, Zyvox, administered orally at 0 per tablet - the infection started to abate.

Doctors told Steven they believed he contracted it at the gym. Keith, who lives in West New York, N.J., has been battling MRSA for months, with the infection cropping up on his legs, then his face, then back on his legs. The doctor treating him says the infection has "colonized" inside him. He believes Keith contracted it from a friend.

In New York City hospitals, about 50 percent of infections are now resistant to some kind of antibiotic, as opposed to 10 percent a decade ago, according to several local infectious-disease specialists.

According to an Institute of Medicine report last year, 80,000 people die each year in the United States from hospital-acquired infections.

The city is not aware of anyone dying of MRSA acquired outside hospitals.

There are now three antibiotics left that can attack MRSA: vancomysin, daptomycin and linezolid. But those antibiotics are beginning to lose their potency against the bug.

Link is dead. The MIA article (quoted in full above) can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
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The Doctor vanishes

Flesh-eating case doctor vanishes

A junior doctor who sent home a mother-of-two 12 hours before she died from a rare flesh-eating bug has since vanished, an inquest has heard.

Vanessa McMahon, 40, died after Torbay Hospital staff failed to spot streptococcal necrotising fasciitis.

Dr Syed Ali, who discharged Ms McMahon, is rumoured to have returned home to the Indian sub-continent, South Devon Coroner's Court in Torquay heard.

Attempts to contact him had failed, the court was told.

Miss McMahon, from Totnes, Devon, suddenly became ill last April.

She was admitted to the casualty department of Torbay Hospital with diarrhoea, vomiting and severe leg pains but was sent home by Dr Ali.

No condition signs

Just a few hours later she was readmitted, this time to intensive care, but by then it was too late.

None of the doctors who saw her in her last 24 hours realised she had necrotising fasciitis, or the flesh-eating bug, the hearing was told.

An expert in the rare disease told the inquest that Dr Ali's failure to refer the patient to a senior doctor was a "gross error".

Dr Marina Morgan, a consultant microbiologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, said it "would have been prudent" to ask a second opinion and to keep her in overnight.

She added: "I am deeply saddened by this tragic case.

"The late diagnosis did not surprise me, although the initial clinical diagnosis of this clearly sick patient leaves much to be desired."

A consultant surgeon at Torbay, Veronica Convey, told the inquest on Thursday that she had later learned Dr Ali was distracted from his work because his own newborn baby was seriously ill.

She said if she had known this she would have advised him to stay at home.

She said Dr Ali went on sick leave on the day of Ms McMahon's death and did not return to the hospital.

The inquest continues.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/06/25 13:51:39 GMT

Personally I think that the rise in cases of "resistant" bacteria and viruses is caused by the increased and IMO unnecessary prescription of antibiotics.
If our own immune system was left to be strengthened by natural resistance and not "propped up" by antibiotics then our bodies would be much more resiliant and antibiotics could be used in extreme cases.
In the developed nations we're so mollycoddled and over-protected that very basic problems such as allergies and bacterial infection are made worse.

This "flesh-eating" outbreak gives me the heebee-geebees! It's too close to the horrific (but morbidly fascinating) Ebola!
'Flesh-eating' bacteria are on the rise

Published online: 17 September 2004; | doi:10.1038/news040913-22

'Flesh-eating' bacteria are on the rise
Alison Abbott

European monitors reveal prevalence of fatal infections.

The harder you look, it seems, the more you find... and it won't always be good news. A European research network has found that life-threatening infections with group A Streptococcus, also known as 'flesh-eating bacteria', are much more frequent than had been thought.

Scientists in 11 countries, led by microbiologist Aftab Jasir at Lund University in Sweden, have been systematically searching for these infections. When they started the project in 2002 they expected to find 1,000 cases in the first 18 months. Instead they found 5,000.

"There had been little surveillance in countries like Italy, Cyprus and Romania," says Jasir. These countries initially claimed they had very few cases. "But when everybody started to look systematically, it turned out that the incidence was more or less the same everywhere: between 3.8 and 4 cases per 100,000 population."

Most group A streptococcal infections are benign. They may cause a sore throat or there may not be any symptoms at all. But in some cases the bacteria mysteriously turn rampant. They invade the body and chew through soft tissue and muscle, damaging the heart or kidneys, a condition known as necrotizing fasciitis. In other cases, they tear holes in fine blood vessels, causing leakage of fluid and a precipitous fall in blood pressure, called toxic shock syndrome. Death can strike within 24 hours, and it does so in 20-30% of cases, even with high-dose antibiotic treatment.

Evolving strains

Jasir suspects that the 25 countries of the newly expanded European Union harbour up to 20,000 cases each year. And she says that evidence from countries where surveillance has always been most efficient, such as Britain, Scandinavia and the Czech Republic, suggests that the incidence rates are increasing. "In Britain alone, the number of reported cases has doubled in the past five years," she says.

Another worrying sign is that, among the collected strains, the researchers found a huge number of distinct types of bacterium, which differed in the structure of a particular protein. This protein, called 'M', alerts the host's immune system to the bacterium's presence. This diversity implies that the bacteria are evolving rapidly.

Scientists do not understand what the evolution of the strains will mean for the incidence and treatment of infections in the future. But they know that the number of different types will make developing a vaccine difficult. Given this, alongside worries that the bacteria may develop resistance to the powerful antibiotics that keep many sufferers alive, scientists are pushing for more research into the basic biology of the catastrophic infections.

As yet they have little idea about what makes a benign group-A Streptococcus strain suddenly turn virulent. Some strains seem to have more potential to become aggressive, but the state of the patient's immune system also seems to be an important factor. "Understanding the biology of this is the next priority for the research network," says Jasir.

Story from [email protected]:
Staph Strain Infects More Healthy People

Thu Sep 30, 1:24 PM ET

Health - AP

By LINDA A. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

TRENTON, N.J. - Flesh-eating bacteria cases, fatal pneumonia and life-threatening heart infections suddenly are popping up around the country, striking healthy people and stunning their doctors.

The cause? Staph, a bacteria better known for causing skin boils easily treated with standard antibiotic pills.

No more, say infectious disease experts, who increasingly are seeing these "super bugs" — strains of Staphylococcus aureus unfazed by the entire penicillin family and other first-line drugs.

Until a few years ago, these drug-resistant infections were unheard of except in hospital patients, prison inmates and the chronically ill. Now, resistant strains are infecting healthy children, athletes and others with no connection to a hospital.

"This is a new bug," said Dr. John Bartlett, who chairs the committee on antibiotic resistance at the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "It's a different strain than in the hospital ... more dangerous than other staph.

"Primary care physicians and ER doctors, they don't all know (about this) and should," he said.

Bartlett, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, treated three young Baltimore area women this year who got pneumonia from this community-acquired resistant staph. All had to be put on breathing machines, and one died, he said.

The infections will be a hot topic at the society's annual meeting this week in Boston. The group has been warning that drug companies aren't developing enough new antibiotics to avert a crisis.

Among the case reports to be discussed:

_In Los Angeles, doctors at UCLA Medical Center treated 14 people with necrotizing fasciitis, informally known as "flesh-eating bacteria," over a 14-month stretch through April. Three needed reconstructive surgery and 10 spent time in intensive care.

"This is about as serious an infectious disease emergency as you can get," said Dr. Loren G. Miller. "We don't know how these people got the infection — there doesn't seem to be a common thread."

_In Corpus Christi, Texas, doctors at Driscoll Children's Hospital saw fewer than 10 cases a year of community-acquired resistant staph infections in the 1990s, then saw 459 in 2003, with 90 percent in healthy children. Half were admitted to the hospital to get intravenous antibiotics; a few developed life-threatening lung and heart infections or toxic shock syndrome.

_A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) study shows another new twist: The resistant staph strain caused pneumonia in 17 people, killing five, during last year's flu season. Only one had any risk factors for the infection.

"Nobody dreamt when we were in medical school that this would ever enter the community," said Dr. Rajendra Kapila of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.

He has treated several patients with the infections at University Hospital there, including an itinerant golf caddie who kept getting abscesses on his neck until he landed in the hospital two years ago. Kapila linked the infections to abrasions from the man's golf bag strap.

In August, a man in his 40s with severe back pain turned out to have such a severe staph infection in his spinal cord he was paralyzed permanently, Kapila said.

Dr. John Segreti, an infectious disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, estimates about 1 in 10 patients, some with prior health problems, die from the infections.

Dr. Dan Jernigan, a CDC epidemiologist, said athletes, children and military recruits are at higher risk. They are more likely to get cuts and scrapes and share close quarters and items such as towels and soap. Another factor is overuse of antibiotics, which tends to kill weak bacteria and help hardier ones develop resistance.

"Clinicians will have to think differently about skin infections," Jernigan said. "We treat most skin infections without ever testing them."

Testing will tell whether a strain is antibiotic-resistant, but the tests are expensive.

There are no national statistics on these infections, but health authorities are debating requiring doctors to report them.

CDC has reported on numerous infection clusters, including Colorado fencing club members, college football players in Pennsylvania and Los Angeles, and high school wrestlers in Indiana, and dozens of Pacific Islanders in Hawaii. Many patients were hospitalized, including most of the athletes. At least two outbreaks have occurred among Native Alaskans since 1996, with many cases linked to steam baths.

In New Jersey, infection clusters were reported in 2003 and earlier this year involving two high schools and members of one family.

In Stafford, Texas, Janet Johnson's 13-year-old son Nicholas had such a severe infection — apparently after a minor football injury last October — that he was hospitalized for 5 1/2 weeks and nearly died. The staph infected his lungs, blood and bones, destroying hearing in one ear and making it difficult to walk.

"He was like a stroke victim," she said, but he's doing much better now thanks to extensive physical therapy, repeated surgeries and continuing use of antibiotics.


On the Net:

Infectious Diseases Society of America: http://www.idsociety.org

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Claims Teen's Leg

Teen's Leg Infected After Bike Fall

POSTED: 3:48 pm EST January 3, 2005
UPDATED: 7:04 am EST January 4, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Central Florida teen is recovering Tuesday after a flesh-eating bacteria forced doctors to amputate most of his leg, according to a Local 6 News report.

Nathan Dooley, 19, who is a recent Lake Mary High School graduate, recently received a cut on his leg after falling from his dirt bike during a ride at his new home in Oregon. The cut quickly became infected with what is known as flesh-eating bacteria and began to spread, Local 6 News reported.

"It's an absolute freak thing," Dooley's father Roger Dooley said from his Orange County, Fla., home. "He literally fought for his life for six days. He was in a drug-induced coma basically."

Dooley's mother said she noticed the swelling and knew something was wrong.

"We saw this infection eat his leg," Dooley's mother said. "We watched it puff out."

Doctors who diagnosed Dooley with flesh-eating bacteria were forced to act quickly to stop the aggressive disease.

"This is the worse I have ever seen. I have never seen anyone lose a limb over it -- that's how bad this one was," Oregon Health and Science University's Dr. Yale Popowich said. "It was at the point where we were all very worried that it was going to continue spreading, which this type of infection can do. It can almost spread before your eyes."

Doctors also had to remove the infection from Dooley's muscles around his hip and upper leg.

Dooley did not have medical insurance, according to KOIN-TV. If he had lost both legs instead of one, he would have qualified for coverage under the Oregon Health Plan, according to the report.

Donations to help cover his medical costs, including additional surgeries, can be made by calling (541) 479-3351 or contacting the Evergreen Federal Bank at 969 S.E. Sixth St. Grants Pass, Ore., 97526.

Copyright 2005 by Internet Broadcasting Systems and Local6.com.

If you get a boil or a large cyst anywhere on your body, please take it to a doctor at once.

My husband just came home from the hospital. He hasn't been well this year, but I had to take him to the emergency room on Thursday because he was totally dehydrated, breathing wrong, feverish, and non-responsive. He looked like Abe Lincoln on crack. While they were pumping in fluid and experimenting with various bits of him trying to figure out the cause, they drained a boil on the inside of his nose. It turns out to contain MRSA, a resistant staph infection.

Although this may not be the ultimate cause of his ongoing problems, the (not particularly competent) doctor thinks he could well have had it for some time and the resultant ills just built up to a point that it reached crisis levels. This is not the first boil he's had all year, but he was so sick of going to the doctor he's taken care of them himself.

Please do not ever do this. Staph is in the general population and you don't want to let it go systemic. The initial manifestation may not be dramatic, but you don't want this kind of drama in your life.

G'night. I'm going to go sleep next to my husband for the first time in a week.
New strains of superbug can kill in 24 hours


New strains of superbug can kill in 24 hours

Clara Penn
Sunday February 20, 2005
The Observer

Highly virulent strains of the superbug MRSA which infect healthy young people with no connection to hospitals are appearing in the UK.

The new varieties cause skin and soft tissue infections such as boils, abscesses and inflammation and, in rare cases so far only seen in other countries, a severe pneumonia that can kill in 24 hours.

Since last April, dozens of Community-Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) cases have been identified by the Staphylococcus Reference Laboratory of the Health Protection Agency.

Healthy children seem to be most susceptible to this infection, as opposed to older people with weak immune systems who more commonly succumb to the strains found in Britain's hospitals.

Until now Britain had appeared untouched by CA-MRSA, which is distinct from the healthcare-associated strain. It is causing public health concern worldwide, particularly in the United States, where it has swept through prisons, military units and sports teams. It is spread by skin-to-skin contact, especially between people sharing towels or playing sports which can cause skin abrasion, such as American football or rugby. It has also been spreading among homosexual men in San Francisco. In some areas of the US, it now accounts for more than 70 per cent of MRSA cases reported.

'The kind of boils it can cause are not your average adolescent skin pimples, that's for sure,' said Angela Kearns, head of the Staphylococcus Reference Laboratory at the Health Protection Agency in north London. 'They can be quite severe infections which may need hospitalisation and drainage.'

But she emphasised that these infections are still rare: 'It's a watch-and-wait situation. Doctors are sending us isolated examples they are taking from infections that are not responding to the usual treatments.

'These are not, so far, what you might call the "epidemic" types of community strains which are infecting larger groups of people in the United States. In a handful of cases we have seen them passed between members of the same family. We're also seeing specific types infecting people who inject drugs.'

Although it is resistant to the penicillin class of antibiotics, unlike the hospital strains, CA-MRSA is not multi-drug resistant and treatment is straightforward in the majority of cases. Problems arise when doctors try to treat the skin infections using common penicillin drugs such as methicillin. The infection is then able to gain more of a foothold and can spread through the body.

Many MRSA experts now think it is inevitable that Britain will mirror the situation in America. 'MRSA is becoming a significant danger outside healthcare settings and it's spreading fast,' said Mark Enright of the University of Bath, who is working on several international studies of the origins and epidemiology of CA-MRSA.

'Some of these strains now produce a toxin that enables the bacterium to cause serious disease in healthy children and young adults.'

Outbreaks of CA-MRSA were first reported in the early 1980s, but it was not until the late 1990s that cases began to increase rapidly worldwide. Infections have been documented in countries including France, Denmark - where cases have more than doubled in the past two years - Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, India, Australia and New Zealand.



(who is allergic to a wide range of anti-biotics)
Could common scents snuff out the superbug?

Feb 28 2005

Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

RESEARCH conducted at the University of Manchester has found that three oils usually used in aromatherapy destroyed MRSA and E.coli bacteria in two minutes flat.

Scientists are now suggesting that the oils could be blended into soaps and shampoo which could be used in hospitals to stop the spread of the superbug or MRSA.

Jacqui Stringer, complemen-tary medicine clinical leader at Christie Cancer Hospital, who instigated the research, believes essential oils are so effective because they are made up of a complex mixture of chemical compounds which MRSA and other superbug bacteria find difficult to resist. She is not alone in this belief.

I believe this research could lead to a very practical application which would be of enormous benefit to the NHS and its patients.

MRSA and other hospital- acquired infections kill about 5,000 patients a year in the UK. Many more suffer unpleasant complications to the illnesses for which they were first admitted.

Dr Peter Warn, from the University of Manchester, who carried out the research, said the essential oils could be used to create much more pleasant inhalation therapies - which are likely to have a much higher success than current treatment, which is only effective in around 50% of cases.

The present treatment for MRSA involves the unpleasant application of disinfectant on the affected area.

The resistance to penicillin of certain strains of bacteria, including the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bug, has been named as one reason for the growth in infection, but there is little doubt that this is not the only reason.

Falls in cleanliness standards have also been blamed by many within the health professions and external commentators. The reduction in hospital cleaners in the past 20 years gives this theory credibility.

But irrespective of why, we need to find a solution, and wipe out the superbug.

Could aromatherapy essential oils be the essential ingredient in this fight? After all, the therapeutic benefits of these oils have been known and harnessed for about 5,000 years.

The ancient Egyptians recognised their antiseptic properties and harnessed their potential for medicinal purposes as well as for embalming their dead, by slowing down their decomposition.

Aromatic bonfires were lit to cleanse the air from the 14th to the 17th centuries in plague- ravaged Europe. Doctors wore nosebags of aromatic herbs (including cinnamon and cloves) to kill germs.

The medicinal action of smells was often associated with religious rites and magical incantations, and at first popular healing developed separately in different parts of the world.

This is known as ethnobotany and one aspect of this is the study of remedies and drugs, known as pharmacoethnography.

Recent research has been mostly in tropical regions, studying drugs used by peoples still living in close contact with nature and relatively untouched by modern civilisation.

Modern aromatherapy is primarily associated with the French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse, whose family owned a perfumery business.

While working in the lab he burnt his hand and plunged it into a vat of lavender oil.

His burn healed quickly without scarring and he subsequently discovered the excellent antiseptic qualities of many other essential oils.

His first book, Aromatherapie, in 1928, was the first use of the word "aromatherapy".

Modern science is gradually explaining superstitions and removing errors from popular healing. At the same time, chemical analysis and biological study are frequently confirming things which were formerly known only from experience and which had no rational explanation. This phenomenon is now reaching aromatherapy.

In France today, many medical doctors and hospitals prescribe essential oils as an alternative to antibiotic treatment, whereas in most countries the idea of using natural aromatics as a form of medical treatment is still very radical.

Essential oils are highly concentrated and in the UK they are usually only used externally by qualified aromatherapists, combined with massage to provide a very effective treatment for stress-relief and a host of other well-documented therapeutic benefits.

With this latest Manchester research, we can not only prove the centuries-old belief in the benefits of essential aroma- therapy oils, but also move positively towards finding a simple but effective solution to a growing problem in our health service.

It took Kryptonite to subdue Superman in his comic adventures. Maybe in essential oils we will find the means to subdue the superbug.

Eleanor Burnham is Liberal Democrat AM for North Wales. She is a qualified aroma- therapist.

Drug-resistant germs on the rise, doctors warn

Study: More Americans acquiring hard-to treat staph infections
The Associated Press

Updated: 1:59 p.m. ET April 8, 2005

Dangerous drug-resistant staph infections are showing up at an alarming rate outside hospitals and nursing homes in the United States.

New research found that in one part of the country, as many as one in five infections were picked up out in the community.

Until recently, these hard-to-treat cases were seen only in hospitals and other health-care settings where they can spread to patients with open wounds or tubes and cause serious complications. Now doctors are seeing resistant strains among inmates, children and athletes.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspected that those outside infections might just be leaking out of hospitals rather than emerging from the general population. But their study in Baltimore, the Atlanta area and Minnesota proved that theory wrong.

Germs 'now a community problem'

Overall, they found 17 percent of drug-resistant staph infections were caught in the community and did not have any apparent links to health-care settings.

“Close to one-fifth of what used to be a hospital-specific problem is now a community problem. And that’s a large number,” said the CDC’s Dr. Scott K. Fridkin. “We didn’t think it would be anywhere near that high when we started the study.”

Their findings are published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

In a second study in the journal, researchers reported that drug-resistant staph has acquired “flesh-eating” capabilities and caused 14 cases of rare necrotizing fasciitis in the Los Angeles area. All needed surgery and 10 were in intensive care. The condition is usually caused by strep bacteria, and there has been only one other confirmed case caused by staph.

“The bugs are winning, unfortunately, and we need to catch up,” said Dr. Loren G. Miller, one of the researchers at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “We really need to rapidly develop antibiotics to catch up with the bugs and start using antibiotics more appropriately.”

It has been over 70 years since the first life-saving antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered. But in recent years, inappropriate use of antibiotics has yielded these wonder drugs less and less effective. Read on to learn more about antibiotic resistance and what you can do to help prevent it.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria that cause infection are not killed by the antibiotics taken to stop the infection. Those that survive carry genes that allow them to evade the drugs intended to destroy them.
Antibiotics do not directly cause resistance but they do create an environment where the resistant strains can proliferate. Overuse of antibiotics is cited as a cause of resistance.

Infections caused by resistant bacteria fail to respond to treatment, resulting in prolonged illness and increased risk of death.

* Don't pressure your doctor to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections. Antibiotics battle bacteria, not viruses. According to researchers at the CDC, 50 million of the 150 million outpatient prescriptions each year are unneeded.
* Follow prescription instructions. Measure liquid antibiotics and take the full course for the full number of days. Underdosing, skipping doses and stopping early can encourage resistant strains to develop.
* Ask your doctor if a short course of antibiotics will work as well as a long one. Shorter courses give resistant bacteria less time to take over.
* Don�t save pills for later or use other people�s leftovers.

Sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, & Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics

Staph bacteria are a common cause of skin infections. Healthy people may carry the bacteria on their skin and in their noses. When infections occur, they are mostly pimples and boils, but the germ can cause serious surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

Three-quarters of the community-acquired cases in the CDC study were skin infections, but 23 percent of the cases were serious enough to require hospitalization.

Staph bacteria resistant to the penicillin drug family are called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The CDC researchers checked up to two years of lab reports for drug-resistant staph. More than 80 percent of the 12,553 cases were excluded because the patients had been hospitalized, had a history of surgery or dialysis or had another risk factor.

Children at highest risk

About 17 percent overall, or 2,107 cases, were determined to be community-acquired staph. The rate was 20 percent in Atlanta, 12 percent in Minnesota and 8 percent in Baltimore.

“When they got out in the community, it was felt these strains weren’t strong enough to make it on their own. That no longer appears to be the case,” said Dr. Henry F. Chambers of the University of California at San Francisco, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

The CDC research found that children under 2 were at higher risk, which could be because children get more cuts and scrapes. Blacks in Atlanta were found to be at higher risk than whites. In cases confirmed through interviews, half were in people who shared a bedroom, and only about one in 10 were in day care.

Fridkin said the study may have underestimated drug-resistant staph out in the community because not all cases are sent to labs for analysis.

Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology at NYU Medical Center, said people can help prevent staph infections by washing their hands, using an antiseptic and a bandage on all cuts and scrapes, and avoiding the sharing of towels, razors, clothing and athletic equipment.

“People should be aware that something that looks like an innocent infection might have a serious consequence,” said Tierno, who wrote “The Secret Life of Germs.”

© 2005 The Associated Press.

Bronx Girl Dies From Flesh-Eating Bacteria


NEW YORK - A 10-year-old Bronx girl has died from flesh-eating bacteria, a rare and invasive form of the same bug that causes strep throat and scarlet fever. Nathera Masoud had never suffered any serious health problems before contracting necrotizing fasciitis, an infection caused Group A streptococcus bacteria, the Daily News reported Tuesday. She died Friday.

"She was so strong," the girl's mother, Daisy Masoud, told the Daily News. "She fought it but there was nothing she could do. ... She was a wonderful kid."

Necrotizing fasciitis is a fast-moving form of the Group A strep bacteria that can destroy skin and the soft tissues beneath it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are between 500 and 1,500 cases of necrotizing fasciitis in the United States each year. Around 20 percent of those who develop necrotizing fasciitis die from the disease.

Nathera first started feeling ill around April 2 when she complained of a sharp pain near her armpit, her mother said. Her condition worsened, and tests at Montefiore Medical Center on April 12 confirmed that her tissues were under attack from the bacteria. Three days later she was dead.

Officials at Public School/Middle School 95, where Nathera was a fifth grader, sent a letter home to parents on Monday indicating that the disease is not spread through casual contact. But shaken parents said they were concerned.

"I can't help but worry," said Linda Colon, whose son is in the same third grade class as Nathera's brother. "They informed us and everything, but I still worry."

Officials from the school and the city Department of Health planned to meet with parents Wednesday evening to address their fears.

Wasn't there a "Holidays from Hell" thread somewhere? Anyway, it fits just as well in here:

SYDNEY woman Ally Vagg and her boyfriend Bryan Williams are living a South American nightmare, stranded in Bolivia because they are infected with rare flesh-eating parasites that crawl out of their skin.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reports Ms Vagg, 28, and her Gold Coast boyfriend had returned from a dream trip to the Amazon basin last month with what they thought were infected mosquito bites.


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/auss ... z2KGdYA12w
'Nightmare bacteria' spreading

Hospitals need to take action against the spread of a deadly, antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria kill up to half of patients who are infected.

The bacteria, called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, have increased over the past decade and grown resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics, according to the CDC. In the first half of 2012, 200 health care facilities treated patients infected with CRE.

"CRE are nightmare bacteria," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement. "Our strongest antibiotics don't work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections. Doctors, hospital leaders and public health must work together now to implement CDC's 'detect and protect' strategy and stop these infections from spreading."

That strategy includes making sure proper hand hygiene policies in health care facilities are actually followed.

Patients should also be screened for CREs, according to the CDC. Infected patients should be isolated, or grouped together to limit exposures.

The good news is that not only is CRE seen relatively infrequently in most U.S. facilities, but current surveillance systems haven't been able to find it commonly in otherwise healthy people in the community, says Dr. Alex Kallen, a CDC medical officer.

"Of course, if this were to (spread to the community), it would make it much more difficult to control," he said.

Each year, hospital-acquired infections sicken about 1.7 million and kill 99,000 people in the United States. While up to 50% of patients with CRE bloodstream infections die, similar antibiotic-susceptible bacteria kill about 20% of bloodstream-infected patients.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/06/health/su ... index.html
Hooray - CRE is here now:

'Nightmare' superbug alarm

A widely feared superbug has contaminated hand-washing sinks in Dandenong Hospital's intensive care unit, causing 10 patients to fall ill with the ''nightmare bacteria'' that have killed many people worldwide.

A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday says the 440-bed hospital in Melbourne's south-east has been struggling to contain the multi-drug-resistant bacteria since 2009. Ten patients have been infected since then, but none died from the infection.

An infectious disease physician at the hospital, Rhonda Stuart, said doctors had been concerned about a string of cases in the intensive care unit between 2009 and last year, but only acquired the technology last August to test surfaces for the bacteria known as CRE. Associate Professor Stuart said the tests revealed the bacteria were in the sinks where healthcare workers washed their hands. While it could not be proved, she said, this might have spread the infection to patients because the sinks' poor design caused water to splash back off the drain.

Despite this being discovered seven months ago, Associate Professor Stuart said the hospital was only now preparing to replace the sinks. When asked if cost had delayed this, she said ''there were always difficulties with trying to do things in budget-restrained times''. However, she said doctors were satisfied the intensive care unit was safe.

The sinks were being cleaned regularly with 170-degree pressurised steam, which removes the bacteria for about three days before they grow back. Staff were also being careful with infection control procedures to prevent further patient infections, she said.

''No patients have tested positive for the bacteria since we've undertaken this process, so we're happy things have been controlled with the new steam technology … There is no risk to anybody,'' said Associate Professor Stuart, who is also medical director of infection control for Monash Health. CRE (Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) is a new class of multi-resistant bacteria alarming doctors worldwide because of their ability to spread drug resistance to other bacteria.

Two weeks ago the director of the US Centres for Disease Control, Tom Frieden, labelled CRE ''nightmare bacteria'' because of their resistance to nearly all antibiotics and their high mortality rate. Some types are estimated to kill up to half of the people they infect.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/night ... z2NrEahJTD
Super bacteria infects 63 patients: health authority

South Korea's health authority said Sunday it has confirmed 63 patients have been infected with a super bacterial infection that cannot be easily treated by antibiotics, raising concerns over a possible contagion.

The number of patients infected with OXA-232-type carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae, also known as a super bacteria, came to 63 at 13 local hospitals as of Thursday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It marked the first time for this type of CPE to be detected in South Korea, the health agency said. Such super bacteria are known to be resistant to most antibiotics, which gives patients a limited chance for recovery.

The first infection detected in South Korea came from a patient who was injured in India and later relocated to local hospitals.

One of the local hospitals in which the initial victim was treated at was found to have three other patients with the bacteria.

The healthy control agency said it will make quarantine measures to prevent the further spread of the super bacteria, and tighten surveillance and related rules. It added it will also continue to keep an eye on the 13 hospitals until the number of patients stays flat for three months. (Yonhap News)

Now they'r targeting DJs!

Flesh-eating bug: Swansea DJ tells how graze almost killed him

After grazing a knee while walking home from work, Scott Neil thought nothing of it: little did he know it almost cost him his leg or even his life. The 31-year-old underwent surgery six times in six weeks in hospital as that cut developed into a very rare but potentially fatal flesh-eating disease. He is one of about 500 people a year in the UK who get necrotising fasciitis.

Scott said it was "mind-blowing" that his graze could have led to him dying from this rare bacterial infection. Doctors told him that he was hours away from losing his left leg and even dying.

Scott recalls being in "searing agony", crying "tears of pain and just begging to go to the hospital" a few days after the fall walking to his home in Swansea in May last year - an incident that he describes as "nothing spectacular really" - with his leg swollen to double its size.

But that graze had turned into necrotising fasciitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection that happens if a wound gets infected, and it needs urgent hospital treatment.

Now they'r targeting DJs!

Flesh-eating bug: Swansea DJ tells how graze almost killed him

After grazing a knee while walking home from work, Scott Neil thought nothing of it: little did he know it almost cost him his leg or even his life. The 31-year-old underwent surgery six times in six weeks in hospital as that cut developed into a very rare but potentially fatal flesh-eating disease. He is one of about 500 people a year in the UK who get necrotising fasciitis.

Scott said it was "mind-blowing" that his graze could have led to him dying from this rare bacterial infection. Doctors told him that he was hours away from losing his left leg and even dying.

Scott recalls being in "searing agony", crying "tears of pain and just begging to go to the hospital" a few days after the fall walking to his home in Swansea in May last year - an incident that he describes as "nothing spectacular really" - with his leg swollen to double its size.

But that graze had turned into necrotising fasciitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection that happens if a wound gets infected, and it needs urgent hospital treatment.

I've done a physical job most of my life until recently, and I just lived with grazes and cuts and carried on. I occasionally gave a thought to infection, especially as I've heard of people getting life threatening infections from rose thorns, and I used to work in all kinds of unsanitary environments. But I got away with it, I guess I was just lucky, and I was also complacent. Lots of folk are less lucky.
The storm surge and flooding associated with Hurricane Ian has caused a transient upsurge in "flesh eating bacteria" infections in Florida.
Surge of 'flesh-eating' bacteria infections plagues Florida following Hurricane Ian

When Hurricane Ian slammed into Lee County, Florida, as a near-Category 5 storm last month, it left in its wake not just widespread destruction but also a surge of rare "flesh-eating" bacterial infections, state health data shows.

Flesh-eating bacteria can cause "necrotizing fasciitis" — an infection that triggers aggressive inflammation in the tissue surrounding muscles and other organs, causing that tissue to rapidly die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab) (CDC). The bacteria enter the body through broken skin, and necrotizing fasciitis can set in quickly thereafter, leading to life-threatening complications like shock and organ failure. Up to 20% of people with necrotizing fasciitis die, some within days of the infection's start.

The type of flesh-eating bacteria behind Florida’s surge in infectionsis called Vibrio vulnificus. The salt-loving bacteria can be found in warm, brackish water, meaning a mix of fresh and salt water typically found in estuaries, salt marshes and the points where rivers meet the ocean, according to the CDC (opens in new tab). Concentrations of the bacteria tend to be highest between May and October, when water temperatures rise, and the vast majority of V. vulnificus infections occur in that time window. Hurricanes, storm surges and coastal flooding can raise the risk of infection by increasing the likelihood that people come in contact with contaminated water. ...

Before the hurricane struck, 37 cases of V. vulnificus infection had been reported for 2022 in Florida, according to Florida Department of Health data (opens in new tab). Shortly after the storm, the number shot up to 65. Most of the newly reported cases occurred in Lee County, where Ian made landfall, and one occurred in Collier County, its neighbor to the south. The department's website (opens in new tab) notes that these counties experienced an "abnormal increase [in cases] due to the impacts of Hurricane Ian."

Out of the 65 people with reported infections, 11 have died, according to the health department. ...

In 2021, Florida reported 34 cases of V. vulnificus infection, 10 of which were fatal, and in 2020, the state reported 36 cases, seven of which were fatal. The number of cases seen this year is unusual — since the health department began reporting data in 2008, annual reported cases have generally ranged from 16 to 50 a year. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/flesh-eating-bacteria-florida-after-hurricane
Maybe his relative was a cannibal.

A man in Florida developed a rampant "flesh-eating" infection that tore through his thigh just days after a relative bit his leg during a fight at a family gathering.

The 52-year-old Riverview resident, Donnie Adams, initially noticed a small bump on his left thigh, which emerged two days after he'd broken up a fight between two family members at a gathering, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Thinking the wound looked like a bite mark, Adams went to a local emergency room to get a tetanus shot and antibiotic treatment.

But three days later, "my leg was very sore. I couldn't walk, it was very warm and very painful," Adams told local news network WFLA.