Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection that causes the tissue to die, which in medical terms is called ‘necrotic’. In this article we explore what bacteria cause necrotising fasciitis, how they enter the body and what happens when they do.
What bacteria cause necrotising fasciitis?
Necrotising fasciitis can be caused by different types of bacteria. About a fifth of cases will be caused by the Group A Streptococcus bacteria which will lead to a very severe infection. Other types of bacteria that can potentially cause necrotising fasciitis include Klebsiella, Clostridium, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Aeromonas hydrophila.
In order for necrotising fasciitis to develop, the bacteria must actually get inside the body. As bacteria are microscopic they can enter via extremely small breaks in the skin. This can include, for example, paper cuts and needle wounds. It may not even be apparent that the skin has sustained some form of trauma. The bacteria can also enter the body via large lacerations such as surgical incisions.
What happens when the bacteria enter the body?
When the bacteria get inside the body, they will immediately begin to reproduce at a rapid rate. As they do so, they release a chemical that is poisonous to the tissue and fascia (a type of connective tissue). This will cause the tissue to die. As the bacteria continue to multiply the infection will spread further up the body, resulting in more and more necrotic tissue. Because the bacteria reproduce so quickly, the area of necrosis will soon become extensive.
Delayed diagnosis of necrotising fasciitis
Due to the speed at which the condition progresses, it is important medical professionals make a timely diagnosis. It should be possible for doctors to recognise the early symptoms of necrotising fasciitis, which include fever, a severe pain at the site of infection, and skin that is red and hot to touch. The appearance of the skin will also change, turning from red to purple or black in colour.
These symptoms should alert doctors to the presence of infection and steps should then be taken to verify the bacteria causing the problem. This should lead to a timely diagnosis of the condition, ensuring treatment can be provided before the area of necrosis becomes extensive.
If medical professionals fail to make a timely diagnosis, even though a patient has the typical symptoms of necrotising fasciitis, there will be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim. If this has happened to you, get in touch with us today to discuss your options.