Beware of Life-threatening Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Table of contents:

Beware of Life-threatening Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Beware of Life-threatening Flesh-Eating Bacteria

You may have heard the term 'flesh-eating bacteria'. These bacteria can trigger dangerous infections in wounds that may appear minor, such as cuts or insect bites. If not treated immediately, these bacteria can cause disability or even death

Although they are called flesh-eating bacteria, they don't actually eat meat or muscle. However, these bacteria can release toxins that damage surrounding tissues, including skin, fat under the skin, and the thin tissue that wraps around organs or muscles (fascia).

Beware of Flesh-Eating Bacteria That Can Be Life-threatening - Alodokter

Flesh-eating bacteria can enter the body through wounds. Unlike normal wounds, wounds that are infected with flesh-eating bacteria will deteriorate very quickly.

If not treated immediately, a flesh-eating bacterial infection can be fatal, causing the sufferer to lose organs or body tissues. This bacterial infection can also cause death.

The Cause of Flesh-eating Bacterial Infection

Flesh-eating bacterial infection can cause a rare condition called necrotizing fasciitis. This condition is a severe skin and tissue infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria. These bacteria can enter through gaps in wounds, ranging from stab wounds, bruises, burns, to insect bites.

Several types of bacteria classified as flesh-eating bacteria are:

  • Group A Streptococcus
  • Aeromonas hydrophila
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Bacteroides, Prevotella, Clostridium, and Klebsiella

Although dangerous, flesh-eating bacterial infections are quite rare. However, there are several medical conditions or diseases that can increase a person's risk of getting this dangerous bacterial infection, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Organ damage, such as liver cirrhosis and kidney failure
  • Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and peripheral vascular disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cancer
  • Weak immune system, for example due to HIV infection or malnutrition
  • Side effects of drugs, such as long-term corticosteroids or chemotherapy
  • Alcohol addiction or drug use in the form of injections

Various Symptoms of Flesh-eating Bacterial Infection

Symptoms of infection due to flesh-eating bacteria are divided into 3 stages, namely the initial stage, the advanced stage, and the critical stage. Here is the explanation:

Early Symptoms

The initial symptoms of infection usually occur within 24 hours and include fever and severe pain in the injured body part. The pain felt by the patient can exceed the shape or size of the wound.

Advanced symptoms

Advanced symptoms usually occur within 3-4 days after the bacteria enter the body. At this stage, infection with flesh-eating bacteria can cause symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In addition, the infected body part will appear red, swollen, and large dark patches appear that appear as fluid-filled blisters (gangrene).

Critical Symptoms

Critical symptoms appear within 4-5 days after the patient is infected with the bacteria. At this stage, the patient may experience a drastic drop in blood pressure (shock) due to toxins released by bacteria. If not treated immediately, the patient may experience a loss of consciousness or coma, and even die.

Treatment of Infections due to Flesh-eating Bacteria

When you get injured, take proper care of the wound immediately. If the wound gets worse or doesn't heal, especially if there are signs of a flesh-eating bacterial infection, see a doctor immediately.

To diagnose necrotizing fasciitis, the doctor can perform a series of examinations consisting of a physical examination and supporting examinations, such as blood tests, blood cultures, X-rays, and CT scans.

After it is confirmed that you have a flesh-eating bacterial infection, the doctor will advise you to be hospitalized and provide the following treatment:


To eradicate flesh-eating bacterial infections, doctors will usually give antibiotics in the form of injections through an IV. The type of antibiotic used will be adjusted to the type of bacteria causing the infection.

In addition, doctors can also give pain medication to reduce pain. If the flesh-eating bacterial infection is severe enough or causes sepsis, the doctor may prescribe medications to treat shock, such as epinephrine.


Surgery or surgery is also often necessary to remove damaged or dead tissue, as well as prevent and stop the spread of infection. In severe cases, doctors may need to amputate parts of the body that have been badly damaged.

Wound care

While you are undergoing treatment at the hospital, the doctor will treat the wound so that the flesh-eating bacterial infection does not get worse.

In addition, the doctor will also recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy to maintain he althy tissue and prevent further tissue damage. However, the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treating this flesh-eating bacterial infection still needs further investigation.

There is no sure way to prevent the flesh-eating bacteria that causes necrotizing fasciitis. However, the risk of this infection can be reduced by proper wound care.

If you have an open wound or sore that looks infected, such as pus, swelling, and pain, don't soak in swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, and the sea until the infection has cleared.

Flesh-eating bacterial infections can spread very quickly. Therefore, if you experience a wound accompanied by symptoms of a flesh-eating bacterial infection, immediately consult a doctor.

The sooner treatment is carried out, the more likely you are to recover and avoid serious complications from a flesh-eating bacterial infection.

Popular topic