Flesh-eating bacteria have been named as the official cause of death of a Maine teenager Benjamin LaMontagne. According to a report from the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office just released to the press, LaMontagne died in February from cervical necrotizing fasciitus which is a virulent infection that can be fatal following dental surgery to remove his wisdom teeth.
A spokesperson for the MEO added that the 18-year-old Cheverus High School student had a significant amount of swelling following the procedure which is a symptom of the deadly disease. LaMontagne became dizzy and weak three days later (February 22) and needed assistance to get to the bathroom.
Later that same night, Lynn LaMontagne, his mother, phoned 911 and reported that her son was no longer breathing. Soon after emergency medical technicians arrived at the LaMontagne Long Island home the multi-talented boy was pronounced dead.
While necrotizing fasciitis is a rare disease it is also very aggressive. It obliterates the fascia which is a layer of connective tissue under the skin around blood vessels, muscles and nerves. The condition can reportedly be initiated by different types of bacteria especially “group A Streptococcus” upon entering a body through any break in the skin. Although the bacteria are often easily treated, they can create toxins that demolish fascia tissue.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) note that healthy individuals with good hygiene are at a low risk of succumbing to the flesh-eating bacteria. They also point out that an infection happening at the dentist’s office is also not common.
Dr. John Molinari, infection control expert for the American Dental Association, told reporters: “I have not heard of anything like that, with necrotizing fasciitis as a result of routine oral surgery extractions.” Adding that oral surgeons have strict protocols they are supposed to follow as a way of limiting infection.
Experts claim that chances of contracting this infection during oral surgery and thus dying from the flesh-eating bacteria are low. Dr. Thomas Dodson, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Washington told the media that approximately “one in 20 people who have oral surgery” experience an infection.
He stated that in his three decades of experience he has had to treat three cases of the flesh-eating necrotizing fasciitis. He has also had to advise other on three cases of the flesh-eating bacteria but none of those six were fatal.
Dodson did say however that hospitalization is definitely required in these cases. He concluded that treatment can take up to a month and is complicated. “Usually, they’re in the (intensive care unit) for most of that time, they’re going back to the operating room many times (in order to have dead tissue removed).”