Flesh-Killing Bacteria Cases Appear in Alaska
Third case this year affects man in Juneau
ALASKA - We need to warn you that the images for this next story are pretty graphic.
Flesh-killing bacteria landed a Juneau man in a Seattle hospital.
This was the third case in Alaska this year, and though the bacteria are rare – according to health experts – they can kill one in five people who are infected.
Those with low immune systems and chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, are more at risk.
Doctors say the bacteria is usually contracted through an open wound and symptoms can begin with redness, swelling or blistering.
It's also been called a flesh “eating” bacteria, but experts say that's technically incorrect.
"The term flesh eating is a misnomer; the bacteria don't actually eat your flesh, what they do is secrete a toxin that destroys the tissue, so it destroys the skin tissue, the muscle tissue, the fat tissue, where those bacteria are present," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin.
Doctors say practicing good personal hygiene typically keeps the infection at bay.