A 50-year-old American woman returned from the Florida vacation – with a pimple on the Po. At first, no special feature. The pimple started to hurt. That too is nothing surprising. Anyone who has ever had a big, deep-set pimple called a boil would not think much of it. A good two weeks later the woman died.
What happened? The 50-year-old from Indianapolis had traveled with her husband on vacation to Florida and spent their holidays in the hotel. There she also relaxed in a whirlpool. This is now suspected to have been burdened with a pathogen. At least the husband later told the US media that she was the only one who had been in it. Other illnesses are unknown.
After returning, the vacationer had a coin-sized pimple on the butt. When he was inflamed and badly hurt, she went to the doctor, according to a US TV station that reported on the case. According to her husband, she was sent home with an antibiotic. So the inflammation should regress.
In such a case antibiotics prescribing is a common practice. It is not uncommon for a wound to become inflamed, such as after a cut injury. If this leads to painful symptoms, doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic because they assume a bacterial infection. So will one blood poisoning ( sepsis ), which can be fatal.
The antibiotic was ineffective
However, according to the media reports, the pain did not go away, got even worse. The woman went back to the clinic, the doctors again gave her antibiotics and sent her back home. But the pain still did not diminish. When the woman came to the emergency room for the third time, the doctors decided to make a tissue sample (biopsy) from the inflamed area. This was sent to the lab. “We are sorry, but she has a carnivorous bacterium, we have to take her to the surgery immediately,” said the doctors, according to media reports to her husband said.
Inflamed skin: The picture shows a boil on the left buttock of a man. A visually similar inflammation had a US-American Po. Shortly thereafter, she succumbed to a serious infection. (Source: imagebroker / imago)
The lab result showed: The patient had one necrotizing fasciitis , This is a bacterial infection of the subcutaneous tissue. Triggers are streptococci that produce toxins. The bacteria then not only cause local problems, but can reach the entire organism through the bloodstream, if they are not removed in time. These are so-called A streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes).
The infected skin and tissue parts must be surgically removed during necrotizing fasciitis. That’s exactly what happened in the clinic. The 50-year-old had to go under the knife twice and spent a total of 16 days in the intensive care unit. Then it was over – the doctors were safe. The patient was allowed to go home again. But only a few days later she succumbed to the disease. The necrotizing fasciitis could not be treated successfully. Apparently there were still poison-producing bacteria in her body.
In Germany, too, people suffer from necrotizing fasciitis
The infection also occurs in Germany. It is estimated that there are about 50 such cases in Germany every year. In fact, infection with a normal dose of penicillin is easy to treat, but it is often recognized too late. According to experts, healthy people can die within two days. The reason is usually a multi-organ failure.
The treacherous: Any wasp sting can be the cause of such an infection. Or the classic: You stab a spade in the garden while gardening. Prompt you have an open wound. If this is infected with A-streptococci, then in very unfavorable case, the rare disease can be triggered. But no one would immediately throw in an antibiotic. According to experts, the first symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis are so unspecific that doctors do not immediately recognize them, and then it is usually already too late. In the best case limbs have to be amputated. In the worst case, those affected die.
The bacteria type Streptococcus is at home in our mucous membranes The bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes (A Streptococcus) often colonizes our mucous membranes. This is usually not a problem. Because the bacteria In many of us, for example, in the upper respiratory tract, an existence does not affect us. However, if the number of these bacteria increases so that they gain the upper hand relative to the others, it can cause throat infections or sinusitis. In these known cold symptoms, A-streptococci are mostly involved. Even with scarlet fever, this bacterium is involved. In rare cases severe courses such as the necrotizing fasciitis described above can occur, in which underlying tissue becomes infected (soft tissue infection) and can lead to fatal course. As a rule, our immune system succeeds in successfully fighting bacteria that enter the body. Therefore, it is often older people or people with weak defenses who are affected by the disease. Necrotizing fasciitis can also occur in young, healthy people. Streptococci are spherical and form rows. That’s where the name comes from, because Streptos is Greek and means necklace. Streptococci have many subspecies with other subtypes. Group A streptococci cause many different infections. It is still unclear from what point in time and why streptococci, which are normal inhabitants of our skin flora, become dangerous. Probably the immune defense of our body plays a role. If this is weakened, the bacteria can multiply more easily. The transmission of streptococci happens via droplet infection or skin contact. In the case of an infection, antibiotics, usually penicillin, are administered.