By Erin Maxson
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A Josephine County man survived an often-deadly bacterium, but did lose a portion of his leg. It’s commonly called the flesh-eating bacteria. Necrotizing fasciitis can take limbs or lives if it’s not diagnosed fast enough.
Tony Morgan, scratched an itch a few days later he was missing a chunk of flesh from his body.
“I was in the shower at the time when I scratched myself and so you figure that’s a clean environment, but obviously not,” he says. That was Wednesday a few weeks ago. With a fever, redness, swelling and pain on his inner thigh, Tony Morgan was in Three Rivers Hospital by that Friday.
“Doctors had me do a cat scan and they said ‘it’s not a hernia, it’s something far worse. You’ve got flesh eating bacteria,’” Morgan recalls.
Doctor Somnath Ghosh didn’t treat Morgan, but says the I-C-U at Rogue Valley Medical Center sees around 10 cases of necrotizing fasciitis a year.
“It usually begins with a cut or maybe a major surgery or just some trauma we experience in our everyday life,” explains Dr. Ghosh.
The bacteria for many, simply causes strep throat; but for some, a potentially fatal outcome.
“We should not underestimate how deadly this disease can be,” says Dr. Ghosh.
Necrotizing fasciitis can spread through touch contact from person to person or if you touch something that is contaminated. Dr. Ghosh says 30-50% of people have no known entrance point, meaning you don’t need an open sore to get it.
“The bacteria gets carried by the blood and it spreads to all other organs,” Dr. Ghosh describes, “Hence, it is imperative to get surgical consultation so that we can divide the tissue that is infective.”
Ultimately, flesh-eating disease causes multi system organ failure. Luckily for Morgan, that was not the result. The symptoms include fever, increasing redness and swelling as well as pain. If you have those symptoms you should be seen by a doctor immediately. Treatment primarily includes surgery to remove the diseased flesh and antibiotics to kill the bacteria.