GCHD Offers Wound Care Tips Following Death Related to Rare Infection

Post Date:10/23/2017 4:58 PM

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) reminds people working on Hurricane Harvey recovery projects to be aware of proper wound care following the death of a man from a rare infection.

The 31-year-old Galveston resident went to the hospital on October 10 with a seriously infected wound on his upper left arm. He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that kills soft tissue, and died on October 16.

The man had recently worked on repairing several homes damaged by Harvey flooding.

“It’s most likely this person’s infection occurred when bacteria from Harvey debris or floodwater entered his body through a wound or cut,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority. “This is a very rare infection but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking for this person’s family and friends.”

The infection was not related to Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria naturally found in beach water. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with strong immune systems who practice good hygiene and proper wound care have a low chance of getting necrotizing fasciitis. Most people who get the infection have other health problems that may lower their body’s ability to fight infection. Some of these conditions include diabetes, kidney disease, cancer and other chronic health conditions that weaken the immune system.

Proper wound care is vital to preventing infections. People with wounds or cuts should:

  • Keep 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 contact with natural bodies of water (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.
  • Seek medical attention for redness, swelling or fever.

This is the only known case of necrotizing fasciitis in Galveston County related to Hurricane Harvey.

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