An emergency case
Tocco Tussardi and her colleagues were part of the team that treated a 44-year-old man who first sought medical treatment for a fever and severe back pain that over-the-counter painkillers couldn’t ease.
His doctor had prescribed stronger painkillers, but the fever continued, and the man’s right buttock became red and inflamed, prompting the administration of antibiotics.
The antibiotics did not make any difference. Within six hours, the man’s left arm turned red and began to swell, and he became sicker. He was transferred to the emergency room.
There, doctors conducted a computed tomography (CT) scan and found that the fascia, which is the connective tissue that covers the muscle, in the man’s arm and buttock appeared thickened. There were gas bubbles in his gluteus muscle, the muscle of the buttock. Those findings had doctors fearing the worst: necrotizing fasciitis. [ 13 Oddest Medical Cases ]
Necrotizing fasciitis is very rare, with only about four cases yearly per every 1 million adults. Mainly caused by an infection by group AStreptococcusbacteria, necrotizing fasciitis destroys soft tissue.
In fact, one of the ways surgeons confirm the infection is by opening the afflicted area and running a finger along the tissue. If the finger cuts through the tissue as easily as a knife would, doctors know they have a case of flesh-eating bacteria , according to Tocco Tussardi and her colleagues. Another sign is grayish, foul-smelling “dishwater” pus in the affected tissue.
TheStreptococcusbacteria typically enter the body through a small cut or blister, although, in the case of the 44-year-old man, there was no history of a wound and no indication of how he contracted the infection, Tocco Tussardi told LiveScience. He did have diabetes , which can affect immune-system function.
Even more unusual, the man had two sites of infection. In 50 years, only 33 such cases have been reported in the scientific literature, the researchers said.
Most likely, the bacteria managed to break into the bloodstream from one infection site and spread to the other, Tocco said, though doctors aren’t sure which site was infected first. By the time the man arrived at the hospital, he was already in critical condition and was having trouble breathing –