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Flesh-Eating Bacteria


Skinned knees are part of being a kid, right? Wash the injury, put on a Band-Aid® and you’re headed back outside. In a few days or weeks, that skinned knee will be ancient history. In rare cases, though, a skinned knee can lead to serious – and sometimes even fatal – problems.


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  • A rare group of bacteria, commonly called “flesh-eating bacteria” can cause necrotizing fasciitis. The truth is, they don’t really eat flesh. Instead, they liquefy tissue, causing widespread damage to skin, fat, tissues, and even organs. And they move fast – destroying as much as 1 inch of body tissue an hour. Quick medical treatment is critical; about one-third of people who become infected die.
  • Flesh-eating bacteria usually enter the body through a cut, scrape, or insect bite. Washing a wound with soap and water and applying antibacterial ointment can help prevent infection.
  • Fortunately, flesh-eating bacteria are rare. The Centers for Disease Control reports less than 1,000 cases a year.
  • Several kinds of bacteria are to blame, including Streptococcus A, the bacteria that causes strep throat. In this case, the bacteria has mutated to become a supercharged bacteria infected with two different viruses that make it especially powerful.
  • One boy in Idaho landed in the hospital after getting a skinned knee. Necrotizing fasciitis was the culprit. Fortunately, with surgery and medicine, he recovered.


Questions and Answers

Question: What is the treatment for necrotizing fasciitis?

Answer: The first treatment is to offer antibiotics, which attack the bacteria. Flesh-eating bacteria are anaerobic, which means exposure to oxygen can kill them. Doctors may perform surgery to open up the wound to air, destroying the bacteria.

Learn More

Read about the boy who survived an encounter with flesh-eating bacteria.



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MLA Style Citation

Declan, Tobin. " Flesh-Eating Bateria Facts ." Easy Science for Kids, May 2020. Web. 27 May 2020. < >.

APA Style Citation

Tobin, Declan. (2020). Flesh-Eating Bateria Facts. Easy Science for Kids. Retrieved from

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