COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Illnesses like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may weaken your immune system, making you predisposed to developing flesh eating bacteria. Doctors say if you fall in that category, prevention can save your life or limbs.
"Patients that have diabetes, patients that are on disease modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs are considered high risk population," explains Dr. Kevin King with St. Francis Hospital.
Dr. King says cases of necritizing fasciitis are higher among these patients and the infections can develop all over the body.
"It can take place in any body cavity, but the primary places where we see it are in the head and the neck, related to dental infections," Dr. King adds. "We see it sometimes in the legs related to your strep. And then sometimes we see it in the nether regions, I guess."
The skin infections can be caused by more than one bacteria and the flesh eating strand has a unique make up.
"It's kind of a specific subset of just Group B strep that affects usually muscle and muscle tissue," Dr. King says.
With at least two cases already reported in the Chattahoochee Valley this year, Dr. King stresses the importance that everyone try to limit their exposure to the commonly referred to flesh eating bacteria, but particularly the high risk group of individuals with a weakened immune system.
"There's a certain amount of danger that's involved with going outside your house and your skin usually provides adequate protection for a vast majority of pathogens. So, personal hygiene is very important," Dr. King urges.
Dr. King says even though flesh-eating bacteria infections are more common in warmer months, it is important to stay physically active and practice good hygiene for your body and mouth all year long.