Friday, January 30, 2009

Are “flesh-eating bacteria” more likely to consume you in the winter when you are vitamin D deficient?

The real name for flesh-eating disease is necrotizing fasciitis. It is caused by a type of strep bacteria that is extremely virulent and causes quick infection and death of the tissue it attacks; it does not, however, “eat flesh.” Necrotizing fasciitis is seasonal, and like so many of the diseases I have discussed, has a much higher incidence in winter.[1] It is likely that sunlight-stimulated vitamin D produces the natural antibiotics (cathelicidins) necessary to keep the disease at bay during summer. It is also interesting to note that Vitamin D3, applied directly, has been effective in treating the injury caused by the bacteria.[2]

I don’t know what your opinion is, but if high vitamin D levels will help me to stave off something called “flesh-eating bacteria,” I believe I’ll spend a lot of time in the sun.

[1] Vlaminckx, B. et al. Long-term surveillance of invasive group A streptococcal disease in The Netherlands, 1994-2003. Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2005;11:226-31.
[2] Sakai, H. et al. A verrucous lesion on skin grafted after necrotizing fasciitis in a diabetic patient successfully treated with combined topical 5-FU and tacalcitol. .J Dermatol. 1997;24:573-7

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