Some facts about necrotizing fasciitis
What is it?: Necrotizing fasciitis is a bacterial infection, most commonly caused by the family of Streptococcus A bacteria, that enters the bloodstream and destroys the body’s soft tissue. Strep A bacteria is usually found in the throat and in most cases only causes strep throat.
How is it contracted?: Cases of necrotizing fasciitis are extremely rare. The most common way of contracting the bacteria is through an open cut, sore, burn, puncture wound or bug bite. People who contract necrotizing fasciitis tend to have other health problems, which lowers the body’s immune system. Most cases of the infection are random and unrelated to similar infections.
How can I prevent it?: The CDC said if you’re healthy, practice good hygiene and wound care, your chances of contracting it are extremely low.
How does it affect the body?: The CDC said the bacteria infects flat layers of a membrane known as the fascia, connective bands of tissue that surround muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels. The infection also damages the tissues next to the fascia.
What are the symptoms?: The symptoms occur within a few hours after an injury and can be confused for just another illness or injury. Some patients complain of feeling like they pulled a muscle. The skin near the infected area can be warm with red or purplish areas of swelling that spread quickly. The skin may also produce ulcers, blisters or black spots. Some patients who have contracted the infection said they feel pain equal to or greater than how painful the skin may appear. Fever, chills, fatigue and vomiting may follow the initial soreness. If someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms, they should seek medical attention immediately.
How is it treated?: The infection is treated with strong antibiotics administered directly to the veins of the patient. Yet because the infection destroys tissue, the antibiotics might not be able to reach every part of the body that’s infected. If that is the case, the infected parts of the body need to be surgically removed quickly.
Is it like the Georgia case?: Several recent cases in the U.S. of flesh-eating bacteria, also called necrotizing fasciitis, include a Georgia woman who had both of her hands, her right foot and left leg amputated, and an inmate in Illinois who died. It is unclear from officials at this point if they are the same, or if those cases were a more virulent variety.
Source: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention