Necrotizing fasciitis, the so-called “flesh-eating disease,” is a rare but serious infection. While many types of bacteria can cause this, a very severe form is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria.”
The infection begins like most others – through a cut or a scrape. However, unlike other infections, this one spreads very quickly as the bacteria do their damage. They grow and release a harmful substance that destroys surrounding tissue and can enter the blood stream.
Infection can also occur from surgery, childbirth, or any type of event that causes a trauma to the body. Necrotizing fasciitis is not contagious. Necrotizing fasciitis is not communicable. The only way to get it is to become infected with the bacteria, just as you would get an infection in a cut at any other time.
The bacteria “eat away” at muscles, skin and underlying body tissues. Doctors must act fast to stop the spread of the infection before it spreads and before sepsis develops.
Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and rapid treatment for survival.
Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, and organ dysfunction (don’t work properly) and/or amputations.