WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 58-year-old woman was found to have a bacterial infection after suffering from an eye pain that progressively became worse.
- Based on tests, doctors confirmed that her eye sockets have been attacked by flesh-eating bacteria, which is quite rare.
- The case reports that the eyes and face, which are rich in blood supply, are the last places where such an infection can occur since the bacteria normally thrive in environments with low blood supply.
A woman who was rushed to the emergency room after complaining of severe eye pain and swelling with pus oozing from her eyes was found to have developed a life-threatening infection with flesh-eating bacteria.
An eye exam revealed that the 58-year-old woman’s eye socket, known medically as the orbit, was attacked by the bacteria, which is a rather uncommon place for the infection to take hold, according to a published report in The Journal of Emergency Medicine.
At first, doctors thought she may have a bacterial skin and tissue infection called cellulitis. However, when antibiotic treatments worsened her symptoms, doctors surmised that she was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, a serious condition that destroys skin and muscle tissues that rapidly spreads in the body. She was confirmed to have orbital necrotizing fasciitis from a sample taken from her eye socket.
Generally, flesh-eating infections are rare. But necrotizing fasciitis of the eye is even rarer. The authors wrote that there were only a few cases of the infection reported in the medical literature. Dr. Ryan Walsh, study co-author and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee told Live Science that this case is “probably a once in a career case,” due to not having seen a case like this before.
Walsh explained that although necrotizing fasciitis can occur anywhere in the body, the infections usually thrive in low-oxygen environments with reduced blood supply such as the limbs or abdominal wall. In fact, the high blood content found in the face and eyes helps lower the risk of infections affecting these areas.
Cases of orbital necrotizing fasciitis are most seen following surgery or trauma such as diabetes that makes people more vulnerable to infections. Although it’s not clear how the woman acquired the infection, she mentioned to the doctors that she was currently receiving treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.
Walsh said the medications could weaken her immune system thereby increasing her risk of infections. Further tests showed that the woman was infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Nonetheless, the condition can be serious to fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the fatality rate of orbital necrotizing fasciitis is estimated at 12%, meaning about one-third of patients die from the infection.
The woman was treated with antibiotics that target the specific strains of bacteria she was infected with and also had surgeries to remove damaged tissue from the area. Walsh said she was released after 13 days in the hospital and so far, has not suffered vision loss.
Source: Live Science