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Necrotising Fasciitis: The Flesh-Eating Disease

Necrotising fasciitis is a rare and life-threatening infection that occurs if a wound gets infected. This flesh-eating disease is a result of a bacterial infection. It results in the death of the infected soft tissues of the body. It is very severe and spreads very quickly. Initial symptoms include red/purple skin in the infected area, this colouring spreads quickly followed by severe pain, fever, and vomiting.

Many different types of bacteria and fungi can cause necrotising fasciitis. One-third of cases are due to MRSA. It enters the body through a break in the skin, such as the site of a cut or burn. People with a weak immune system from diabetes, cancer, obesity, alcoholism, or drug use are more susceptible to developing necrotising fasciitis.

Necrotising fasciitis can, however, be treated. A surgical procedure called debridement can be performed. This involves cutting and removing the affected tissue. This is an aggressive treatment and extra tissue may need to be removed to ensure the infection does not spread. With this depending on how severe the disease is, the bone may be exposed. With this, adequate care must be taken so these underlying structures do not become damaged or subsequently infected.

Although a very scary disease, it is extremely rare. An estimated 500 cases are present each year in the UK. With only 3% of people dying from the disease.


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