Health Issues

Necrotising Fasciitis; Flesh eating disease


Necrotising Fasciitis is a rare disease that is commonly known as flesh-eating disease. This rare infection occurs within the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues. These people tend to receive intense pain and severe trauma. Skin becomes discolored and blistered, and a discharge of fluid is present. Surgery is the only way to remove the problem, unfortunately. Mortality rates are as high as 73 percent if left untreated.

Other names have included phagedaenic ulcer, phagedena gangrenous, gangrenous ulcer, malignant ulcer, putrid ulcer, and hospital gangrene.

Typically the infection enters the body through a break in the skin such as a cut or burn. Risk factors include poor immune function such as from diabetes or cancer, obesity, alcoholism, intravenous drug use, and peripheral vascular disease. It is not typically spread between people. The disease is classified into four types, depending on the infecting organism. Between 55% and 80% of cases involve more than one type of bacteria. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is involved in up to a third of cases. Medical imaging is helpful to confirm the diagnosis.

Prevention is by good wound care and handwashing. It is usually treated with surgery to remove the infected tissue and intravenous antibiotics. Often a combination of antibiotics are used such as penicillin G, clindamycin, vancomycin, and gentamicin. Delays in surgery are associated with a higher risk of death. Despite high quality treatment the risk of death is between 25% and 35%.

Necrotizing fasciitis affects 0.4 to 1 person per 100,000 per year. Both sexes are affected equally. It becomes more common among older people and is very rare in children. Necrotizing fasciitis has been described at least since the time of Hippocrates. The term “necrotising fasciitis” first came into use in 1952.

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