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Flesh eating bacteria attacks those with excess iron

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • Flesh-eating disease (necrotizing fasciitis) can be caused by several different organisms. In cases where the infection is contracted through contact with seawater, the culprit is typically Vibrio vulnificus, a particularly dangerous Vibrio species that occurs naturally in warm seawater
  • Having liver disease increases your risk of V. vulnificus infection by 800% and your risk of death from it is 200 times higher than those with healthy livers
  • Having diabetes, HIV, thalassemia or cancer also raises your risk of Vibrio infection, as does taking antacids
  • Iron overload may be a key factor in life-threatening Vibrio infections. High iron provides prime growth conditions for V. vulnificus, and minihepcidin, an iron-lowering drug, has been shown to cure the infection by inhibiting the bacteria’s growth
  • Vibrio bacteria have a high affinity for attachment to human skin. In one study, all participants had Vibrio bacteria on their skin after swimming in seawater

The very idea of flesh-eating bacteria is horrifying and the real-world effects can indeed be devastating, necessitating the removal of large portions of flesh or amputation of limbs. Its effects can also be lethal.

July 15, 2019, WGN9 News reported the case of a woman being infected with flesh-eating bacteria after a quick swim at Norfolk’s Ocean View beach in Virginia the week before.


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