Activity 2: Medical Reference Manual

Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)

What is it?
Flesh-eating disease is a bacterial infection that destroys skin and fat tissue. The disease is very rare. The odds of getting it are about 1 in 100,000. However, it is very serious. About 2 out of 10 people who get this infection die from it.

What causes it?
The disease can be caused by different species of bacteria, including the one that causes strep throat. The bacteria enter the body through open wounds where they interact with the immune system to produce the disease. Flesh-eating disease is rare because the immune system of most people will stop the infection before it becomes serious.

What are the symptoms?
The skin reddens, becomes swollen, and is painful to the touch. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms start suddenly, may get better for a day or two, then quickly worse. If not treated, the disease may result in organ failure and death.

The torso of a patient at an early  stage of infection. On the patients right side, skin appears red under the armpit.Early InfectionThe torso of the same patient at a late stage of infection. A large area of skin from the armpit down to the hip has been destroyed. The infected area  is red and inflamed with black patches of dead skin.Late Infection

How is it treated?
Patients with flesh-eating disease need immediate hospital care. Treatment involves antibiotics and surgery to remove diseased tissue and stop the spread of the disease.