7 Deadly Bacteria That Will Make You Want to Live in a Bubble

There’s something terrifying out there. You can’t see it, but if it gets a hold of you, you’ll definitely feel it. No, we’re not promoting the presence of ghosts or demons; we’re talking about bacteria. Deadly bacteria, to be precise. Read about these seven bacteria, many of them found in your body or on things you touch every day, that can kill you. You may want to stock up on hand sanitizer and surgical masks, but we can’t guarantee that’ll keep you safe.

  1. Aeromonas hydrophila:

    Some scary headlines have popped up during the past couple of months involving a certain flesh-eating bacteria. A 24-year-old woman had to have her leg and hands amputated after the bacteria, Aeromonas hydrophila, infected a cut she received in Georgia after falling from a zipline. This caused the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis. Another woman recently contracted necrotizing fasciitis from a different bacteria: Group A streptococcus, the strep throat bacteria! It likely found its way into a cut or deep bruise and caused the skin to start dying. When a bacterial infection turns into necrotizing fasciitis, doctors flood the body with antibiotics and perform surgeries to get rid of dead tissue, hoping to stop the quickly spreading infection before it consumes its victim.

  2. Acinetobacter baumannii:

    Returning soldiers from Iraq may have thought their worries were over, but a pathogen commonly referred to as Iraqibacter has become a problem for injured veterans who pick up the bacteria in war-zone medical facilities. Acinetobacter baumannii has infected more than 700 U.S. soldiers since 2003; at least seven people have died. The biggest problem facing doctors is that it has become resistant to the antibiotics that used to treat it easily and effectively. The bacteria often causes urinary tract infections and pneumonia, and the only known drug that seems to affect it, Colistin, can cause potentially fatal kidney damage. It’s kind of a lose-lose for some of our bravest.

  3. Enterococcus faecium:

    This common bacteria that you might even find on your office keyboard can cause some nasty side effects if it gets out of hand. An infection from enterococcus faecium can lead to endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, and meningitis, an infection of the outer brain membranes and spinal cord. The bacteria is especially dangerous for patients in hospitals because it is easily spread between hands and medical instruments, and if patients are on antibiotics, the bacteria often flourishes in the intestines.

  4. Mycobacterium leprae:

    You may not have heard of this nasty bacteria, but you’ve probably heard of the infamous disease it causes: leprosy. Since biblical times, this lesion-causing illness has disgusted everyone who encounters it. Societies used to put the diseased into leper’s colonies so they wouldn’t infect others (and presumably so no one would have to look at their lumpy, disfigured faces), but today, more treatments are available. Leprosy is now called Hansen’s disease, and about 100 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. alone. If left untreated, the disease can lead to amputation of hands and feet, and even death, especially when combined with other issues.

  5. Neisseria meningitidis:

    Even scientists aren’t immune to the devastating effects of bacteria. Just this year, a lab worker in San Francisco died from an infection from the bacteria he’d been working with. Neisseria meningitidis can cause meningitis or infect the bloodstream, which is actually the more dangerous outcome. The lab associate died just 17 hours after the bacteria infected his blood. But don’t think you’re safe just because you’re not dealing with beakers and petri dishes. Officials said they couldn’t rule out the fact that the bacteria could’ve come from the community. In fact, 1,000 cases are reported each year in the U.S.

  6. Clostridium difficile:

    If you’ve taken antibiotics, a lot of the naturally occurring microorganisms in your digestive track can be wiped out. This opens up the door for normally harmless bacteria to explode. Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile, can cause serious diarrhea and intestinal disease if it gets out of hand. An infection can even lead to toxic megacolon, which may sound like an awesome super-villain but can actually kill you. When someone consistently has problems with this bacteria, he may opt to undergo a gross but effective fecal transplant, where a healthy person’s stool is filtered and injected into the infected person’s colon. More pleasant than death, but still not a great option.

  7. Vibrio vulnificus:

    You thought you were done with the flesh-eating bacteria, but we’ve got one more for you. Vibrio vulnificus is found in warm salt water, so the waters of the Gulf Coast are especially good breeding grounds and the summer heat increases your chances of encountering the bacteria. You can be infected through an open wound or by eating raw oysters. If you have a weakened immune system, the infection could take hold and destroy your muscles and tissues in just a day. It has a 40% fatality rate. Rethinking your beach trip?