Necrotizing Fasciitis in Hospitalized Patients

  • Author Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
  • Publish date
Necrotizing Fasciitis, also known as the flesh-eating bacteria is an infection that one could contract while hospitalized. It is given this crude name because of its very nature—it rapidly spreads and kills the body’s soft tissue.

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What causes it?

Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by several kinds of bacteria, including AStrptococcus, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, aureus, Klebsiella and Aeromonas hydrophila. It is widely debated as to whether A strep or methicillin-resistant Straphylococcus aereus (MRSA) is the most common cause of this infection.

How does it harm you?

The bacteria finds its way into the patient’s body, through openings in the skin such as cuts, burns, puncture wounds etc. The bacteria then attacks the connective tissues (fascia) surrounding muscle, nerves, blood vessels and fats. It then releases a toxin, which kills the fascia and the tissues surrounding it.

Since they are fast spreading, it is crucial that it be treated for immediately. While scarring is a common aftermath of the infection, in severe cases, amputation of the limb may be the only option. A whopping 25% of the people infected by this infamous flesh-eating bacteria, die due to complications caused by the infection.

What symptoms should you look for?

Being fast paced, the symptoms of the infection are usually visible within hours of an injury or wound. It is however easy to get them confused for other illnesses. These symptoms include
• Pain, soreness of muscle, often mistaken for a pulled muscle.
• Discoloration around wound, usually red or purple.
• Blistering of the skin and formation of ulcers
• Fever, chill, fatigue or vomiting.

How is Necrotizing Fasciitis treated?

While the administration of strong antibiotics, injected intravenously is the first choice of action in case of the infection, sometimes, this just does not cut it. This is because the drug may not reach all the infected areas in time and the tissue and blood vessels may already be compromised. In such cases, doctors opt for surgical methods and removal of dead tissue to treat the infected area and prevent it from further spreading.

Precautions

While Necrotizing Fasciitis cannot directly be prevented, since open wound play the entry point to the disease, the following precautionary steps must always e taken:
• Keep the open wounds clean at all times
• Caregivers/Nurses must constantly wash their hands and keep the environment sanitized
• Patients with open wounds or respiratory illnesses should not be in contact with the patient, to avoid spreading infections.

If you are a patient in a hospital with an open wound, and a compromised immunity, you must be very vigilant and cautious about acquiring an infection within the hospital premises.
About author
Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D.
The author, Dr Kimberly Langdon is a University-trained Physician (OB/GYN) with 2 decades of clinical experience and has delivered over 2000 babies to Central Ohio Mothers.

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