(04/09/2002)
West Virginia's Center for Surveillance and Disease Control would not confirm nor deny a case of Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh Eating Disease) related to a Calhoun County Woman.

Center Director Dr. Loretta Haddy said it was a matter of confidentiality. She said if such a case did exist, she "would make no recommendations for contact risks with this disease." Haddy said if a public health problem was evident with such a case, the public would be notified.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department referred questions regarding the case to the Center for Surveillance and Disease Control.

The 61-year-old woman is in West Penn Burn Center in critical condition, according to family members and numerous other sources in the community. The woman had been a foster grandparent at a Grantsville Head Start program.

Glen Jones of Parkersburg, Director of Head Start in the region, did not respond to requests for public information.

Statements from public health officials did not confirm risk factors, although the disease is spread by direct contact with blood and body fluids through scratches, sores, cuts or open wounds. It is not an airborne disease, nor is it spread by touching or feces.

According to the New York State Department of Health, There have been no reports of casual contacts, like co-workers or school classmates, developing invasive GAS disease 'group A streptococcus' following contact with a person who developed invasive GAS disease. However, on occasion, close contacts such as family members have developed severe disease. Because studies are limited, there are no current recommendations indicating very close contacts (e.g., household members or those having direct contact with secretions) of individuals with necrotizing fasciitis or STSS 'streptococcal toxic shock syndrome' should be tested for infection.

Early symptoms to the strep disease include flu-like symptoms, sore throat and areas of redness and pain on the skin.

'Flesh Eating Disease' has rapid onset and progresses in a frightening matter within a few hours. It is not a new disease, with about 500-1500 cases being reported annually.

The woman was reportedly diagnosed at an emergency room visit to Minnie Hamilton Health Care in Grantsville on April 1, after which she was transferred for further treatment. Dr. Vishwanth Hande of MHHCC said the center has been staying on top of the situation.


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