What Causes Flesh Eating Bacteria?


The flesh eating disease (necrotizing fasciitis) is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. The disease causes serious damage to tissue, and it can lead to amputation and death if not treated quickly.


  • Streptococcus pyogenes is a rod-shaped bacterium. The rods are a few millimeters long. The bacteria grows in clusters, which is indicated with the "coccus" suffix in the bacteria's name.


  • Streptococcus pyogenes is normally found on the skin. It's considered an opportunistic bacteria that doesn't normally cause disease. The flesh eating disease infects open wounds in the skin.


  • The patient is given antibiotics, but the dead tissue needs to be removed. The dead tissue can cause further inflammation and infections.


  • Streptococcus pyogenes is grown on blood agar. The hemolysis (breakdown) of the blood cells creates a yellow crown around the bacteria cells. Gram staining is also used to identify the bacteria.


  • Prevention of infection from Streptococcus pyogenes is done through proper hygiene. If the skin is cut, clean it with warm soap and water and apply antibacterial ointment to avoid infection.


  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Umberto Salvagnin
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