In anticipation of going to a region with known prevalence of flesh eating bacteria, can an individual take antibiotics prior to going to prevent it from being contracted?


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    Look at antibiotic overuse and antibiotic resistance. If you use antibiotics when you don't need them, the antibiotic still attacks bacteria in your body — bacteria that are either beneficial or at least not causing disease. This misdirected treatment can then promote antibiotic-resistant properties in harmless bacteria that can be shared with other bacteria, or create an opportunity for potentially harmful bacteria to replace the harmless ones. Also look up the definition of immunize. You are not immunizing when using antibiotics in the way you describe. Jul 21, 2019 at 8:00
  • @chrisrogers good start to an answer.
    – Muze
    Jul 26, 2019 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


It is not generally recommended, but any individual person should speak to their doctor for individualized advice prior to traveling to areas with potential for concerning exposures. There are many health factors that determine how risky a disease exposure is for an individual, and what he/she should do about it.

The term you're looking for is antibiotic prophylaxis, and there are very few situations where this is done, such as some surgical procedures, or dental procedures for specific individuals, traveling to an area with endemic malaria (which is a parasite not bacteria), or for severely immunocompromised individuals like PCP prophylaxis with bactrim in AIDS when CD4 count is extremely low. But it is not recommended for most situations - especially when an individual has a normal immune defense. Again, for individual advice, speak with a doctor.

Your linked "flesh-eating bacteria" article explains clearly that the individual was immunosuppressed due to cancer. That is a common reason for bad outcomes from a bacteria that usually would be fought off by a healthy immune system, or at least kept out by intact skin (wound-free). The other woman sustained an injury that broke her skin in the water that had the bacteria. The article states that

people "who are immunocompromised, e.g. chronic liver disease, kidney disease, or weakened immune system, should wear proper foot protection to prevent cuts and injury caused by rocks and shells on the beach."

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