Spot the Signs of Flesh-eating Disease

Those flu-like chills, fever and rapidly progressing pain could be signs your bruise or injury is something far more serious

Credit: iStock / DKart

A bruise can lead to flesh-eating disease if it gets worse and comes with a fever and chills

If it feels like the flu but comes after an injury, it could actually be flesh-eating disease

It’s called necrotizing fasciitis (NF), but most of us know it as flesh-eating disease – a descriptor that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this serious, fast-spreading and sometimes fatal bacterial infection.

NF is caused by bacteria that enter the body through a break in the skin, either from an injury, insect bite or surgical incision, where its rapid growth and spread can cause body tissues to die.

How You Get Fleshing-eating Disease

What most people may not know is that even a severe bruise (without any direct break in the skin) accompanied by significant swelling and large blood pools under the skin can be a hot spot for the development of NF. That’s why large, painful, severe bruises should always be evaluated by a physician.

Certain individuals are more prone to NF, including people with diabetes, alcoholics and intravenous drug users, smokers, and people with compromised immune systems or who are obese.

Treatment of Necrotizing Fasciitis

NF requires aggressive treatment using powerful antibiotics and surgical removal of the affected tissue.

Symptoms of NF begin with flu-like chills, fever and severe, rapidly progressing pain that is out of proportion to the apparent injury. If you’ve sustained an injury and are experiencing symptoms, don’t wait. See your doctor immediately.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.