Necrotizing fasciitis is the correct medical term for flesh eating bacteria. It is a very rare but serious bacterial infection. This dangerous infection is fatal in 30% to 40% of the cases. It usually starts in the arms, legs, and abdominal wall. Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that starts in the tissues just below the skin and spreads along the flat layers of tissue (known as fascia). The fascia separate different layers of soft tissue.
This flesh eating bacteria infection starts out with a person contracting one of the bacteria mentioned here. In most cases the infection is mild and goes away with treatment. In rare cases it goes on to be the flesh eating bacteria which is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. It is called flesh eating bacteria because these tissues often die rapidly in a person with necrotizing fasciitis. Streptococcus pyogenes is the most common type of bacteria causing necrotizing fasciitis. Fournier gangrene is necrotizing fasciitis when it occurs in the area of the genitals.
Many people who develop an infection from these bacteria will recover after receiving treatment. The infection from these bacteria is treated with antibiotics. People with a weakened immune system or have chronic health problems are in the high risk group for getting complications of this infection.
This flesh eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, is caused by several different types of bacteria. One of these bacteria is same bacteria that cause strep throat and impetigo, Streptococcus pyogenes, can also cause the flesh eating infection. Usually this bacterium causes a mild infection and it is easily treatable with antibiotics, but there are cases where the infection becomes the flesh eating infection and is spread quickly along the tissue covering the muscle. These bacteria can also get into the blood stream and attack the organs.
Another type of necrotizing fasciitis may be caused by multiple bacteria found in the intestine. The flesh eating infection can start after an open injury to the intestine, such as a gunshot wound or intestinal surgery. This is the type seen mostly in people with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease.
The disease also may be caused by Vibrio vulnificus. Infection with this bacterium can occur if wounds are exposed to ocean water or in contact with raw saltwater fish or oysters. This is what happened not too long ago with a man form Texas. He was fishing and scraped his knee. With in a day he was very sick. He lost his leg to amputation from the spread of the flesh eating bacteria. The amputation could not arrest the spread of this infection and the man lost his life. This all happened with in a month of the initial contracting of the bacteria. This flesh eating bacteria is found in sea water. It can be contracted through the sea water itself or by handling fish or shell fish. These infections are more common in people who have liver diseases such cirrhosis. The man in Texas had Hepatitis C, making it much harder to fight off the initial infection.
This flesh eating bacteria can be contracted by a break in the skin, which leaves it open to infection. It can also occur at the sight of a muscle strain or bruise even with out a break in the skin. The infection travels through the blood stream so it may not always be obvious where this infection originated.
This flesh eating bacteria can be transferred from person to person. Unless there is a break in the skin or the person has an impaired immune system they will be less likely to develop a deadly form of this infection. Some one who has chickenpox is also at risk due to a weak immune system at that time.
Symptoms of this flesh eating bacterial infection are much pain from a recent injury.or at the site of an open wound. It is usually an unprecedented amount of pain than what you would expect from the size of the injury or wound. Other symptoms a person may experience are flu like with fever, chills, and nausea and vomiting or diarrhea. The area is usually swollen and hot when it is touched. If the infection starts deep in the tissue like that of a sprain then the visible symptoms may not occur right away.
The symptoms come on all of the sudden and spread very quickly. They can become life threatening very fast. Organ failure and even death can be caused by Necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh eating bacteria.
The flesh eating bacterial infection is diagnosis by testing a sample of the infected tissue by your doctor. Also diagnostic tests are done to see what areas inside the body are infected. This is done by X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
If the diagnosis is found to be the flesh eating bacterial infection, hospitalization is required while an aggressive treatment of the stronger antibiotics is used. Most likely the affected area will be surgically removed to stop further infection.
This infection is found all over the world. If someone suspects they have the flesh eating bacterial infection they must seek medical help imediatly. It can be a matter of life or death.
References: Web MD, What is Necrotizing fasciitis?