Necrotizing Faciitis

Makayla Kimble

What causes this disease?

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection, that people commonly like to call a "flesh-eating disease". Necrotizing fasciitis occurs when bacteria infect the superficial fascia, a layer of connective tissue below the skin. This disease can also enter the body through: cuts, insect bites, and abrasions.

How contagious is it?

This flesh-eating disease is somewhat but not highly contagious. Bacteria from this disease can be spread by kissing, or touching an infected or open wound. But remember, your immune system must be similarly compromised in order to become ill. If you must be in close contact with someone with this disease unless your taking antibiotics also, you could get it.


Most common early symptoms include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the affected area.
  • Fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and other flue-like symptoms.
  • Redness, heat, swelling, or fluid-filled blisters in the skin over the affected area. If the infection is deep in the tissue, these signs of inflammation may not develop right away.

Later symptoms may include:

  • Signs of shock, dizziness or fainting which are often worse when you get up from sitting or lying down. These symptoms are caused by a drop in blood pressure.
  • Scaling, peeling, or discolored skin over the affected area, which are signs of tissue death.

How is this disease positively diagnosed?

The diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis is a clinical one but lab findings can be used in conjunction with physical findings; these include a raised white cell count as well as raised levels of glucose, urea, and creatinine in samples taken. CT Scans and MRIs can also be used and are useful in delineating the extent of the infection and showing soft tissue gas. The Finger test is another adjunct method for diagnosing the disease. A 2-cm incision is made down to the deep fascia and gentle probing of the index finger is performed at the level of the deep fascia. Lack of bleeding, presence of characteristic “dishwater pus” and lack of tissue resistance to blunt finger dissection are features of a positive finger test and indicate NF.

How is is treated & how effective is treatment?

Treatment of an infection caused by flesh-eating bacteria involves antibiotics and surgical debridement of the wound areas as well as supportive measures such as insertion of a breathing tube, your given lots of fluids and drugs to support the cardiovascular system. How effective the treatment is would have to be based when the disease was discovered an how quickly it started being treated.

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