Flesh-eating bacteria enters the body through open wounds such as insect bites, cuts or skin abrasions, according to WebMD. In addition, bodily injury and surgery increase the risk for contracting a flesh-eating disease.
E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium or a combination of bacterium can all cause a flesh-eating disease to occur, notes MedicineNet. The early stages of a flesh-eating disease include redness, swelling or a rash around the entry point. Within 24 hours, people typically experience fever, nausea and vomiting. Later symptoms include skin peeling or discoloration as the disease spreads. Gas bubbles that form underneath the skin typically indicate the presence of flesh-eating bacteria, states WebMD.
Flesh-eating bacteria break down skin, muscle and fat tissue, explains WebMD. Treatment options include intravenous antibiotics, blood transfusions and medications to increase blood pressure. Surgery to remove infected tissue or amputation of infected limbs help prevent the bacteria from spreading.
To prevent flesh-eating bacteria from entering the body, people must cover open wounds with dry bandages and avoid swimming in open waters or pools until the wounds have healed, suggests MedicineNet. Those with the highest risk for contracting a flesh-eating disease include people who have cancer, diabetes, weakened immune systems or those who do not care for open wounds properly. Those with the lowest risk are people with strong immune systems and those who regularly clean and bandage open wounds.