By Jueseppi B.
Necrotizing fasciitis (NF), commonly known as flesh-eating disease or flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, is a rare infection of the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues, easily spreading across the fascial plane within the subcutaneous tissue.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a quickly progressing and severe disease of sudden onset and is usually treated immediately with high doses of intravenous antibiotics.
Type I describes a polymicrobial infection, whereas Type II describes a monomicrobial infection. Many types of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis (e.g., Group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes), Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio vulnificus, Clostridium perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis,Aeromonas hydrophila). Such infections are more likely to occur in people with compromised immune systems.
Historically, Group A streptococcus made up most cases of Type II infections. However, since as early as 2001, another serious form of monomicrobial necrotizing fasciitis has been observed with increasing frequency, caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Some published case reports have implied a possible link between use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and NF, though the evidence of the link was said to be weak because of a small number of case patients and it was unclear whether the drugs just masked the symptoms of a secondary infection or were a cause per se.
Necrotizing soft tissue infection is a rare but very severe type of bacterial infection. It can destroy the muscles, skin, and underlying tissue. The word “necrotizing” refers to something that causes body tissue to die.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Many different types of bacteria can cause this infection. A very severe and usually deadly form of necrotizing soft tissue infection is due to Streptococcus pyogenes, which is sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria.”
Necrotizing soft tissue infection develops when the bacteria enters the body, usually through a minor cut or scrape. The bacteria begins to grow and release harmful substances (toxins) that kill tissue and affect blood flow to the area. As the tissue dies, the bacteria enters the blood and rapidly spreads throughout the body.
- Small, red, painful lump or bump on the skin
- Changes to a very painful bruise-like area and grows rapidly, sometimes in less than an hour
- The center may become black and die
- The skin may break open and ooze fluid
Other symptoms can include:
- Feeling ill
Signs and tests
Your doctor or nurse may diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. You may be diagnosed in an operating room by a surgeon.
Tests that may be done include:
- CT scan
- Blood tests
- Skin tissue biopsy
Immediate treatment is needed to prevent death. Treatment includes:
- Powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics given immediately through a vein (IV)
- Surgery to drain the sore and remove dead tissue
- Special medicines called donor immunoglobulins (antibodies) to help fight the infection in some cases
Other treatments may include:
- Skin grafts after the infection goes away to help your skin heal and look better
- Amputation if the disease spreads through an arm or leg
- 100% oxygen at high pressure (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) for certain types of bacterial infections
How well you do depends on:
- Your overall health (especially if you have diabetes)
- How fast you were diagnosed and how quickly you received treatment
- The type of bacteria causing the infection
- How quickly the infection spreads
- How well treatment works
This disease commonly causes scarring and skin deformity.
Death can occur rapidly without proper treatment.
- Infection spreads throughoug body, causing a blood infection (sepsis), which can be deadly
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of your ability to use an arm or leg
Calling your health care provider
This disorder is severe and may be life threatening, so contact your health care provider immediately if symptoms of infection occur around a skin injury, including:
Always clean the skin thoroughly after a cut, scrape, or other skin injury.
- Review Date: 11/22/2011.
Reviewed by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Lana Kuykendall Leaves Hospital After Flesh-Eating Bacteria
By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C., July 17 (Reuters) – A South Carolina mother who contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection soon after giving birth to twins in May was released from a hospital on Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Lana Kuykendall, 36, a former paramedic, spoke publicly on Monday for the first time since she was hospitalized in Greenville, South Carolina, with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and serious infection of the skin and soft tissues.
“I’m just very grateful to be alive,” the Greenville News quoted Kuykendall as saying of her two-month recovery. “I should be able to get around at home with a walker. But I won’t be running any races soon.”
Kuykendall was hospitalized on May 11 with a painful spot on her leg that quickly grew larger. She was in critical but stable condition for weeks and had more than 20 surgeries on her legs, including skin grafts but no amputations.
She will continue her recovery at home.
Another victim of necrotizing fasciitis, Georgia graduate student Aimee Copeland, moved from Doctors Hospital of Augusta to a rehabilitation center on July 2. Copeland lost her left leg, her right foot and her hands to the infection.
Copeland’s infection was caused by water-borne bacteria she contracted after she fell from a zip-line into a river and gashed her leg.
Kuykendall’s infection was caused by Group A streptococcus, said Dr. Bill Kelly, epidemiologist for the Greenville Hospital System. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins)
Filed under: Causes, Good News, Health, News, Women's Causes, World News Tagged: | Aeromonas hydrophila, Aimee Copeland, Bacterial, Conditions and Diseases, Flesh Eating Bacteria, Health, Infection, Infectious disease, Lana Kuykendall, Necrotizing fasciitis, Streptococcus pyogenes