Coroner confirms 1st known flesh eating bacteria death - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Coroner confirms 1st known death from flesh eating bacteria in Charleston County

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston County Coroner has confirmed that a man has died from being infected with flesh-eating bacteria.

The coroner identified the man as 55-year old Anthony Hills from Charleston.

The coroner says Hills died Saturday at MUSC from a form of Necrotizing Fasciitis.

According to the Coroner's Office, this is the first known case of flesh eating bacteria to result in death in Charleston County.

According to the CDC, about 20 percent of people who get necrotizing fasciitis die.

"I think people have a misconception that it's some exotic, new organism that's been brought to our area or something," said MUSC's Chief of Infectuous Diseases, Michael Kilby. "We'll see a case every month or so, so these things happen."

But not all cases where the bacteria comes in contact with someone gets so severe. Many healthy people have no symptoms at all. It's the folks who are already facing problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart or lung disease that have the higher risk.

According to the CDC, there are anywhere from 650 to 800 cases of this sometimes fatal infection a year.

"The causes of the invection are not that unusual.  You don't have to be in the jungle or exposed to animals or have any unusual exposure.  It's just normal bacteria that are all around that just get into the wrong place," said Kilby.

What causes a normal skin wound--such as a bug bite or cut to tranform into a more serious injury, Kilby says isn't entirely clear.

"One theory is that the same old bacteria develop a new toxin or new characteristic that makes it more invasive," he said.

That's why with any skin injury, Kilby says common sense is key.

"If it's getting worse over a few days rather than better, then you should take it seriously and consider getting checked out by a physician," he said.

While he says the infection is difficult to spread from one person to next, to reduce the chances of a bacterial skin infection, wash your hands often.

 

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