CPR First Aid

Learning About the Bacteria That Causes Gangrene

Learning About the Bacteria That Causes Gangrene

Gangrene is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection that can occur when the tissue in a body part dies. There are different types of bacteria that can cause gangrene.

It’s important to know the different types of bacteria that can cause gangrene, as this information can help you take the necessary precautions to prevent infection.

Let’s dive in and learn more about the different kinds of bacteria that cause gangrene.

Learning More About Gangrene

Before getting into the different types of gangrene bacteria, let’s take a closer look at what gangrene is first.

What is Gangrene?

Gangrene is a serious infection that can occur when the tissue in a body part dies. The causes include a lack of blood flow and severe bacterial infection. Depending on the type of bacteria, along with other factors, a person can get many different types of gangrene, all with their own different symptoms and effects.

Gangrene commonly targets extremities like arms and legs, fingers, and toes. In some cases, it can also target the sex organs of a person. This is a rare type of gangrene called Fournier’s gangrene.

Finally, some instances see gangrene occur in certain muscles or organs of a person.

People who have open wounds, diabetes, and heart conditions are the most susceptible to gangrene.

What Does Gangrene Do to People?

Gangrene is a serious infection that can cause death if it’s not treated quickly. When the tissue in a body part dies, bacteria begin to grow and multiply. This gangrene bacteria releases toxins that spread through the bloodstream and cause organ damage.

The bacteria also break down fat and proteins, which can lead to a build-up of fluid in the tissues. This fluid makes it difficult for blood to circulate properly, which can further complicate things

If gangrene isn’t treated quickly, it can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by bacteria in the blood. Sepsis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and release toxins that trigger a widespread inflammatory response throughout the body.

The Bacteria That Causes Gangrene

Now that we have a better understanding of what gangrene is, let’s take a look at the bacteria that can cause it.

Clostridium Perfringens

Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria found in soil, water, and the intestines of animals and humans. It’s one of the most common bacteria that can cause gangrene

These bacteria usually enter the body through an open wound or cut. It can also enter through a burn or other type of skin injury. Once it’s in the body, it releases toxins that damage tissue and cause infections.

Symptoms of an infection caused by Clostridium perfringens include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Pus or fluid drainage
  • Blisters

If left unchecked, the afflicted patch of skin will change colour to grey and red. It will start to bubble and if pressed, will make a crack-like sound due to the gases inside.

Coliforms

Coliform bacteria are found in soil, water, and the waste of animals and humans. There are many different types of coliform bacteria, but only a few can cause gangrene. These include Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Klebsiella pneumonia.

Like Clostridium perfringens, coliform bacteria usually enter the body through an open wound or cut. It can also enter through a burn or other type of skin injury. Once it’s in the body, it similarly releases toxins that damage tissue and cause infections

Klebsiella Pneumoniae

Klebsiella pneumonia is a bacteria that’s part of the coliform group. It’s found in soil, water, and the intestines of animals. It can also be found on human skin. Like other coliform bacteria, it can cause gangrene.

Klebsiella pneumonia usually enters the body through untended wounds or other similar injuries like burns

Interestingly enough, this type of bacteria is normally found in the intestines of people. It is only when it gets into wounds that it manifests diseases and conditions such as pneumonia, problems in the blood, meningitis, and gangrene.

Streptococci

Streptococci bacteria are found in the environment, on surfaces, and in the bodies of humans and animals. There are many different types of streptococci bacteria, but only a few can cause gangrene. These include Streptococcus pyogenes (strep throat) and Streptococcus agalactiae.

This bacteria brings along various symptoms which all change depending on the organ or part of the body infected. Apart from gangrene, people can also get endocarditis, pneumonia, and pharyngitis.

Staphylococci

Staphylococci is more commonly known as staph. This type of bacteria has over 30 different kinds, with the Staphylococcus aureus being the most infectious one. The aureus type usually lives on the skin and within the nose of people.

Being infected by this bacteria leads to many types of infections, with staph infection being the most common one. Apart from gangrene, it can also infect a person’s bones and the lining of a person’s heart. Pneumonia and food poisoning are other similar symptoms.

Bacteroides

Next up we have Bacteroides. These types of bacteria are usually found within the intestines of a person. There, they have a symbiotic relationship with people. In truth, they actually assist our bodies in pulling out valuable nutrients from the food we eat. This gives our bodies the energy it needs to go about the day.

Additionally, 50% of our faeces are made up of this type of bacteria. This is usually where people can come in contact with it on certain types of wounds that will lead to gangrene.

Vibrio vulnificus

Vibrio vulnificus is a type of bacteria found in the sea. This type of bacteria produces more deaths related to seafood than any other type within the United States. The most common food it is found in is oysters, specifically those that are not cooked all the way through.

Apart from that, it can also be found in the warm waters of the sea. When it comes in contact with an open wound, it can cause necrotizing fasciitis which destroys tissues of the skin and muscles. It can spread quickly, and without urgent medical care, it can result in death.

Corynebacteria

The final bacteria we’ll be discussing is the corynebacteria. These are usually found in the gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tracts. Out in the world, they are commonly found in and around nature. They are also present on our skin and within our mucus membranes.

Tips to Avoid Bacteria and Gangrene

Now that we know about the various types of gangrene bacteria, let’s look at several tips we can do to avoid them.

Keep Your Wounds Clean

One of the most important things you can do is to keep your wounds clean. This will help prevent bacteria from entering and infecting your wound. You should clean your wound with soap and water. If the wound is deeper, you may need to use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.

Use Antibacterial Cream

Another thing you can do is to use an antibacterial cream on your wound. This will help kill any bacteria that are present on your skin. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cream before using it.

Dress Your Wound

It’s also important to dress your wound properly. This will help keep the area clean and free from bacteria. You should use a clean bandage or dressing. Be sure to change the dressing regularly.

They Are Everywhere

If learning about the types of bacteria that cause gangrene has taught us anything, it is that they are everywhere. They are a constant danger that can get into untreated wounds and openings.

If you have a wound that is not healing, it’s important to see a doctor. They can properly clean the wound and make sure there is no infection present. If there is an infection, they can prescribe antibiotics immediately. 

If medical help is far away, you can provide first aid yourself if you know how. This increases the chances of staving off gangrene.

Learn more about first aid and how it can help you and your loved ones by taking CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.

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