There are several causes of necrotising fasciitis, although the bacteria usually enter the body through a wound or weakened skin. One cause of the condition is the 'hospital super-bug' MRSA, a strain of bacteria which is resistant to conventional antibiotics.
Those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes or kidney disease are more susceptible to necrotising fasciitis, although it can affect anyone. MRSA tends to be spread in environments like hospitals, where large numbers of vulnerable people are close together, and medical professionals should screen patients for the bacteria.
What are the Symptoms?
A wound or skin trauma is often the site of infection, although this will not always be present. Early symptoms include intense pain around the site of a wound, flu-like symptoms, and intense thirst. If all of these symptoms are seen together, a medical professional should consider a possible diagnosis of infection.
MRSA infection can quickly escalate to sepsis and other infection. Septic arthritis, or inflamed joints, can also occur. With necrotising fasciitis, more advanced symptoms can develop, and include swelling, dark blotches or flaky skin tissue, diarrhoea and vomiting.
With both conditions, more severe symptoms can occur within days. Blood pressure can drop massively, toxic shock may set in, and the patient can lose consciousness. It is not uncommon for these conditions to be fatal.
Necrotising fasciitis is a rare and extremely serious infection, sometimes referred to as the 'flesh-eating' bug. The bacteria do not actually eat the flesh, but release toxins which can quickly destroy skin and muscle. The condition develops rapidly, and the only form of treatment is surgery.