Doing a spot of gardening seems innocent enough, but without wearing gloves, it can be a lot more treacherous than you would think. Just ask one man from Tampa Bay who ended up in an emergency room for an infected pinky finger.
John Blanchard was cleaning up the yard when he felt a sting on his little digit. He’d been bitten by an unseen assailant. Dressing the wound with a band-aid, he promptly forgot about it.
The bite area didn’t settle down, though, and soon he knew it wasn’t a normal reaction to a couple of ant bites.
“Forty-eight hours later, it wasn’t looking so good and within 48 hours after that, we went to Urgent Care cause it started looking really, really bad,” Blanchard told WNCN.
Blanchard was bit by two ants doing yard work. “Forty-eight hours later, it wasn’t looking so good and within 48 hours…
He was given antibiotics to take; however, he soon found himself in the hospital at St Andrew’s and in serious trouble.
“At 3 a.m. Friday that week, I woke up, felt like my finger was on fire,” he said.
Doctors diagnosed him with cellulitis, an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria. Cellulitis can occur when bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus gain access to the body through a cut or scratch, or in the case of Blanchard, via the ant bites on his little finger. It can cause an infection under the skin that sometimes spreads to surrounding tissue, causing it to die.
Surgery was performed on his pinky finger to clear the infection and stop it from spreading.
“All it takes is you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s present. Small, tiny microscopic hole is all it needs,” he said.
Various similar cases of flesh-eating bacteria have been reported across the Tampa Bay area recently. One woman reported on Facebook she had become infected after a swim at Manasota Key where the noxious bacteria had entered through a tiny pinhole-sized cut on her foot.
Sarah Martinez, from Orlando, cut herself shaving before contracting a bacterial infection at Sarasota beach.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) July 9, 2019
“The cut was really red, it was really swollen, I could barely put pressure on my foot when I walked,” Martinez said, via FoxNews.
In yet another case, a young victim, a 12-year-old girl, was infected in Destin, and she required several surgeries to control the infection.
Lynn Fleming from Coquina beach, Florida, died from a scrape on her leg just over a week later after contracting the flesh-eating disease.
FLESH-EATING BACTERIA | The woman scraped her left leg in the water and died just a week and a half later. The CDC says…
Dr. Matt Swearingen, a professor of biology at Florida Gulf Coast University, says weather conditions at the moment allow the bacteria to flourish.
“It’s incidences of infection increase as the waters get warmer and warmer and warmer, a decrease as the water cools down,” he said, according to FoxNews.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment, and prompt surgery are important to stopping this infection.”
Cellulitis can cause mild or severe symptoms and often affects the deep layers of the skin and the layer of fat beneath. Treatment with antibiotics is usually all that is needed to cure it, but you need to take action right away and not wait until it has become severe.
If cellulitis is allowed to travel deeper into the body through the bloodstream and lymph nodes, it can quickly become a life-threatening situation.
The infection begins with the surface area of the skin becoming red, swollen, tender, and warm or hot. If left untreated, the red, sore area will enlarge, and if a fever or chills manifest, you need to seek emergency care, as it may be spreading quickly throughout the body.
Blood tests or imaging may be necessary to rule out other conditions, such as a blood clot, infected joint, drug reaction, or skin irritant. Antibiotics, compression to the swollen area, and cool compresses will usually alleviate the condition and kill the infection.