This past weekend, Marsha Barnes Beal posted some pictures on Facebook, claiming that her mother was battling an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria contracted at Myrtle Beach, SC over the weekend.
The post has already received over 92,000 shares and 67,000 comments:
The Myrtle Beach City Government hasn’t yet been able to confirm or deny the presence of the flesh-eating bacteria in the waters.
They released this official statement about the viral Facebook post.
“The City of Myrtle Beach is aware of a Facebook post that claims bacterial issues along the Grand Strand. We have had no reports and no direct contact about any such issues. The city has been unable to confirm the location or date of any such incident. At this point, all we have is a Facebook post, with no confirmation. Our ocean water quality is tested twice weekly, with excellent results. If we can determine where such contact may have occurred, we can order additional water quality tests to determine whether any connection exists.”
The DHEC also responded to the response to viral Facebook post, releasing the following statement:
DHEC is aware of the news reports of a potential case of necrotizing fasciitis in the Myrtle Beach area. It’s important to note that this condition is not necessarily associated with exposure to natural waters like oceans, lakes or rivers or poor water quality. Please see below for more information.
About the condition:
Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious complication associated with some bacterial skin infections. It advances quickly and results in the body’s soft tissue dying. (Necrotizing means “causing the death of tissues.”) Unfortunately, necrotizing fasciitis can be deadly in a very short amount of time. Accurate diagnosis, prompt antibiotic treatment and surgery are important to stopping infections associated with this condition.
What causes the condition:
Many different bacteria can cause this rare problem, but group A strep is the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis. Infections from group A strep bacteria are generally mild and are easily treated. But in cases of necrotizing fasciitis, bacteria can enter the body, usually through a wound, and spread rapidly along the thin sheets of tissue that surround muscles and organs, called fascia. This is why the illness is called necrotizing fasciitis. Most people who develop this condition have weakened immune systems.
How to prevent the condition:
- Good wound care is the best way to prevent bacterial skin infections.
- Keep draining or open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed.
- Don’t delay first aid of even minor, non-infected wounds (like blisters, scrapes, or any break in the skin).
- Avoid spending time in whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection.
- Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible.
It’s important to note that not all cases of necrotizing fasciitis are reportable to DHEC, so we do not have specific data on the number of cases of necrotizing fasciitis. The most common type of infection that can be associated with necrotizing fasciitis is invasive Group A strep, which is a reportable infection in South Carolina. For 2016, 177 cases were reported in SC, and for 2017, 146 cases have been reported to date.
Regarding water quality testing, this type of condition is not necessarily related to exposure to natural waters or water quality. The key to helping prevent it is proper wound care. This condition is rare in healthy people.
DHEC will continue to conduct routine beach monitoring sampling in the Myrtle Beach area. Results of these samples can be found here: https://gis.dhec.sc.gov/beachaccess/.
To find out more about flesh-eating bacteria and how to prevent it, check out Understanding, Preventing, Treating, and Living with the Aftermath of Necrotizing Fasciiti by Jacqueline A. Roemmele.