“As bath salts gain popularity, medical centers of all disciplines must be prepared to identify not only the signs of intoxication, but the potential side effects including deadly necrotizing fasciitis,” notes Dr. Russo.
Dr. Russo led a study, which described the first known case of necrotizing fasciitis from an intramuscular injection of the street drug known as “Bath salts”, and it is now published in the January 2012 edition of Orthopedics available online.
Dr. Russo and his colleagues came across this patient who had complained of pain in her forearm. She had a small puncture wound in her forearm with redness.
Doctors treated her for cellulitis with several intravenous antibiotics. That dramatically reduced the symptoms, but the lingering pain at the site of the wound led to an ultrasound. She then admitted to doctors that she had injected the bath salts drugs two days before the pain had begun.
The patient was reexamined and physicians found what they termed “rapidly progressing redness, skin sloughing, and drainage.” Doctors immediately took the patient into surgery, where they discovered necrotizing fasciitis. The infection was moving so fast, the report notes that healthy, pink tissue was literally dying before their eyes.
The surgeons had to keep removing tissue until they reached clear margins of healthy tissue to stop the spread of the infection. When completed, the 34-year-old woman had her arm, shoulder and collarbone amputated. Doctors also had to perform a radical mastectomy. The patient did miraculously survive. (Survival rate of flesh eating bacteria is usually around 50%.)
The surgeons had to keep removing tissue until they reached clear margins of healthy tissue to stop the spread of the infection. When all was said and done, the 34-year-old woman had her arm, shoulder and collarbone amputated. Doctors also had to perform a radical mastectomy. The patient survived and is in rehab. Examination of the dead tissue revealed the presence of multiple bacteria.
Bottom line: Don’t use bath salts to avoid the flesh eating infection!