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Omaha doctor explores reason behind the increase in flesh-eating bacteria cases
It's a frightening disease--necrotizing fasciitis or flesh-eating bacteria.
A California pastor died this week after battling it for six months, and in Omaha six people have been treated for it.
An Omaha infectious disease doctor says it's not necessarily one specific germ, rather common germs that cause severe infections in individual patients.
Dr. Jeffery Sartin works for Omaha's Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Associates.
Sartin says he does see more cases of necrotizing fasciitis, but says he thinks that's partly because people with weakened immune systems are undergoing surgery more often and getting infections.
Sartin says the explosion of tissue-killing bacteria cases isn't caused by one particular germ.
"Three quarters of the patients we see who have these severe soft tissue infections have major underlying health problems like diabetes, and obesity," Dr. Sartin said, adding that all cases he has dealth with have been successfully treated.
"We've used hypobaric oxygen in several cases," Sartin explained. "That's a new treatment that provides higher than normal atmosphere oxygen to patients, and that has been helpful in speeding up the healing process in some of the patients."
Sartin says he's also used hypobaric oxygen chamber to treat another trend of super germs.
"MRSA is something that's on our skin and hides out in our nose and that's something that can be transmitted from person to person," he said.
From MRSA to necrotising fasciitis, Sartin says an overuse of of antibiotics could be one of the reasons for the recent series of germ outbreaks.
"Broad spectrum antibiotic that would 'kill everything,' well unfortunately that kills off some good germs and allows the bad germs to mutate and become resistant to that," Sartin said.
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