Brazil confirms third case of fatal flesh-eating bacteria

Brazil’s health ministry said it has confirmed its third case of necrotising fasciitis in the last three weeks as an increase in cases of the bacteria responsible for fatal cases in New York City and Washington DC sparked fears across the country.

The infectious disease can cause deep wounds and fatal abscesses that kill faster than anaphylactic shock. Nucrosis fasciitis is caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria found in soil and rivers and carried by animals. One patient in the two-year-old girl’s family had a pre-existing condition, family friend Maria Fernandez Almeida told media.

Public health minister Ricardo Barros said: “These terrible cases of necrotising fasciitis are caused by the same agent [as] that in the New York and DC cases, but due to differences in the spread and degree of contact between the patients, we cannot call them related outbreaks yet.”

He said the public health department was studying new diagnostic techniques and changes to surveillance procedures to determine if there was a common incubation period for the disease. The disease was also becoming more common across Brazil as cases increased by one-third this year to 43, compared with 32 in 2016, despite the introduction of an emergency vaccination program.

“As it was in Brazil, [in New York and DC] [the disease] has been caused by an agent that takes over the life of animals and people by infecting large amounts of the human body,” Barros said. “To destroy these species of bacteria is to destroy part of our being, and this is something that every human has to guard against.”

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A new case of the disease was confirmed on Monday in Rio de Janeiro state. Rio state health director Silvina Raposo said the patient’s condition was “very grave”. She did not give the victim’s age, nor name.

Adina Rezende De Souza, the special doctor in charge of surgical emergencies at the Torrejon military hospital in Madrid, Spain, told BBC Brasil that this type of fever should be treated with antibiotics to protect the health of the patient and to prevent contagion.

Mauricio Vidal, Rio de Janeiro state’s health secretary, said the state had already begun monitoring pigs at all major meat processing facilities to help identify cases of the disease. Similar measures had been taken to eradicate bacteria in other states.

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