What and where are brain-eating amoebas?
This summer, reports have emerged of a woman who died following an infection with “brain-eating” amoeba contracted while rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in North Carolina and a man who contracted “flesh eating” bacteria after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. What are these infections and how great a concern are they for the average person enjoying an outing on a lake, river or at the beach?
Most cases of necrotizing fasciitis begin with a break in the skin, such as a cut, puncture wound or surgical incision, that subsequently becomes infected. Having a condition that causes compromise of the immune system, such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, or being on cancer chemotherapy increases the risk of developing this infection.
Necrotizing fasciitis is considered to be a rare disease that is not primarily contracted through exposure to contaminated recreational water. It is important, however, that any cut, scrape or puncture wound to the skin be cleaned thoroughly to avoid developing an infection. Also, you should avoid spending time in hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water until infections are healed.
Kent Davidson MD – Health Tip Content Editor
Reviewed and Approved by Charles W. Smith MD, Medical Director on 7-13-2016
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