Benjamin LaMontagne, an 18-year-old Cheverus student who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria following oral surgery, was pronounced dead at his home after first responders attempted to revive him, according to the medical examiner’s report.
LaMontagne felt weak and dizzy after having four wisdom teeth extracted on Feb. 19, the report indicates. Swelling in his jaw had spread to his eyes, and LaMontagne was unable to eat or swallow easily. His mother contacted his dental office to inform the staff that medication he had been prescribed was failing to alleviate his nausea and pain, the report states.
The dental office is not named in the report.
Three days after the procedure, LaMontagne’s mother discovered him breathing but unresponsive after he got up to use the bathroom at 11:30 p.m.
Following a Feb. 24 autopsy, the medical examiner determined LaMontagne died from complications of necrotizing fasciitis in his neck following the dental procedure. The autopsy report notes severe death of tissue at the surgical sites, along with symptoms including swelling and inflammation of the neck and membrane in the lungs.
Commonly known as “flesh-eating bacteria,” necrotizing fasciitis ravages muscles, fat and skin tissue, typically entering the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or scrape.
The disease can be caused by several types of bacteria, most commonly group A Streptococcus, otherwise tolerable germs typically found in the throat and on the skin.
Infections from group A strep are usually easily treated, but in some cases produce toxins that can destroy the tissue they infect.
Healthy individuals who practice good hygiene are at extremely low risk of contracting necrotizing fasciitis, according to the U.S. CDC.