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Definition of Flesh-eating bacteria

Flesh-eating bacteria: A popular media term for a type of strep bacteria (group A streptococcus) which rapidly destroys tissue and left untreated causes death. Surgical excision of dead and infected tissue is usually necessary to help control the infection. The rapid spread and destruction of tissue caused by these bacteria is thought due to a combination of factors related to a protective coat and other substances produced by the bacteria.

Other bacteria besides strep can also exhibit this type of behavior.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12001
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012

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