It sounds like something from a Netflix horror movie: flesh eating bacteria that can invade your body and kill you.
This strange thing, also called vibrio vulnificus, is real however and tends to strike when the weather is hot.
What is it? Flesh eating bacteria can get in your body and cause an infection called necrotizing fasciitis. It affects your muscles. When it’s left untreated, it can mean that you need to amputate whatever part of your body it’s found in, in order to survive.
According to the CDC, many kinds of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, including Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, and E. coli.
And here’s the good news: this infection is really rare, and it’s easily avoided. Simply don’t go into any body of water such as a lake, ocean, a pool or a river if you have an open wound. This includes tattoos! Even minor injuries such as blister can host this stuff, so be vigilant. The bacteria gets in under the skin, and when it goes in deep, it causes the infection.
Warm water is more likely to host this bacteria, so be wary of enticing watering holes and pools.
And know that if you have a lowered immune system due to cancer treatment, diabetes or kidney problems, you’re at an increased risk of having the bacteria spread throughout your body before your system can fight it off.
Your best bet? If that cut hurts more than it should, see a doctor. And sit on clean towel, on the sand until everything heals.
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