Necrotizing fasciitis: The Flesh Eating Disease Fact Sheet

Necrotizing fasciitis is the scientific name of the disease known as ‘Flesh Eating Disease‘ among the masses.

‘Necrosis’ means ‘death’ while the meaning of the word ‘fascia’ means subcutaneous tissues. The name therefore implies the death of the tissues situated beneath the skin.  Necrotizing fasciitis  is a soft-tissue infection.

The disease is caused by infections by a different types of bacteria belonging to Type A Streptococcus. The bacterial agent of the disease does not depend on oxygen for their growth and are anaerobic or facultative anaerobic in nature.

Once infected, the disease causing bacteria starts releasing toxins in the bloodstream and tissues. The disease spreads very quickly leaving the infected with very short time for treatment. The spread of the disease can be as fast as 5 cm an hour. The disease may become deadly within 24 hours. The short time is behind the high curiosity of people to know about it.

The streptococcal bacteria can enter into the body through small openings in the skin caused by bruises and blisters. Once infected by the deadly bacteria, It is difficult to identify the disease in the early stage as the symptoms of the disease are similar to the common flu.

The initial treatment involves antibiotics and surgical treatments to remove the affected tissues. If failed in stopping the spread of the disease sometimes amputation is required. The disease has a morbidity rate of over 30%.

Statistics of the infection is not very clear. According to report since 2010,   in the USA ~700- 1,100 cases per year of necrotizing fasciitis infection by group A strep have been appearing per year.

Efforts are on to make a vaccine against Strep A infection.

Necrotizing fasciitis has been reported from almost all parts of the world. 

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