What is Flesh-Eating Bacteria?
“Flesh-eating bacteria” or necrotizing fasciitis is an infection underneath the skin that can cause serious complications including loss of limbs or even death. Symptoms can develop quickly such as redness or swelling to the affected skin area, severe pain, confusion, or fevers.
1. People with necrotizing fasciitis need prompt and urgent treatment.
Necrotizing fasciitis can develop rapidly and needs quick medical attention. Surgery is the best treatment(1). This is because antibiotics cannot reach the infected areas that the bacteria have killed. Surgery is needed in order to remove the infected dead tissue.
2. Diabetes is the most common condition associated with necrotizing fasciitis.
Other common conditions include renal failure, heart disease, substance abuse, and obesity(2).
3. Necrotizing fasciitis carries a mortality rate up to 90%(3)
Since 2010, approximately 700 to 1200 cases occur each year in the United States, which is likely an underestimate(1). Even after treatment, survivors tend to have a shorter lifespan.(3)
4. The same bacteria that causes “strep throat” also cause necrotizing fasciitis.
Many bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis but one of the most common is Group A Streptococcus, which is the same bacteria that causes “strep throat”(2).
5. Necrotizing fasciitis can occur randomly.
Necrotizing fasciitis occurs when bacteria enter the body through a cut in the skin such as a cut, scrape, burn, bites, or a puncture wound(1). Therefore, it is important to monitor for any redness, swelling, warmth, or drainage to the skin or an open wound.
Prevention of necrotizing fasciitis
To prevent necrotizing fasciitis, you’ll need to take a number of precautions including washing your hands with soap and water. This is especially important after coughing, sneezing, preparing meals, or after using the restroom. Also, if you have any open wounds it is important to avoid hot tubs, swimming pools, and other bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans(1).