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THOUSAND OAKS : Hospital Reports 4th ‘Flesh-Eating’ Case

Infected cat scratches turned into a case of “flesh-eating bacteria” for a Thousand Oaks man, the fourth case of the virulent strep infection reported in Ventura County in the past few weeks.

The man checked himself into Los Robles Regional Medical Center last weekend with an infected arm, said J.B. Wilmeth, the internist treating the infection cases. Within a 24-hour period, the infection spread up to the patient’s armpit and down his chest to his groin.

Doses of pure oxygen, administered in a pressurized chamber, have stopped the bacteria’s spread and reduced the size of the infection, Wilmeth said. In addition, three other patients admitted in July are recovering from their bouts with the infection that kills skin and tissue.

Wilmeth resisted any suggestion that incidents of the condition doctors call “necrotizing fasciitis” represent any kind of epidemic. The patients all show different mixes of streptococcus and other germs causing the infection. And the Thousand Oaks man, like the first three patients, suffered circulatory problems making him prone to such disorders.

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The bacteria, which might produce a sore throat in one case, can create a gaping sore in others. Patients with circulatory problems, which limit oxygen’s flow to all parts of the body, are particularly susceptible.

Oxygen--used in large doses to treat the infections--kills the bacteria and strengthens the healthy cells around the sore.

All four patients have undergone several rounds of treatment in Los Robles’ hyperbaric chamber, a pressurized cylinder that allows doctors to administer doses of pure oxygen.


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