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Flesh-Eating Bacteria: Myths and Facts

It’s all over the news: a healthy young woman in Georgia has been attacked by “Flesh Eating Bacteria.” Thankfully, she’s finally off of a ventilator. She’s still critically ill, even after undergoing several heroic surgical procedures to remove dead tissue. There will be a lot of rehab in her future, and she will never be the same.

The recent media frenzy over this case has helped create and perpetuate some myths about this very serious, though uncommon infection:

There is an epidemic. Necrotizing fasciitis is uncommon, but not that rare, affecting about 10-15,000 people in the United States annually. The rate is not increasing.

It mostly affects healthy people. Though the current media-favorite case is a healthy young woman, necrotizing fasciitis is more common in people with underlying health problems like diabetes or poor immunity.

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