Popularly known as
flesh-eating disease, the infection typically begins as a warm, very painful red swelling, sometimes at the site of a minor injury. Patients usually have a high fever and may feel ill, dizzy, and confused; the infection spreads rapidly, and tissue in older infected areas turns purplish or black as it dies. Necrotizing fasciitis is treated with surgery (to remove infected tissue) and intravenous antibiotics (high-dose penicillin and clindamycin). If not treated promptly, the toxins produced by the bacteria can cause septic shock and lead to death within 24 hours; roughly 30% of infected patients die.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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