Let's talk about Necrotizing Fasciitis!

Concerns/ Questions about NF

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What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

It's a bacteria that enters the body and eats tissue away causing death of the tissue. This is a very fast acting bacteria that when a person is exposed to, can lead to possible loss of limbs or even death within days to weeks.  

Is it more likely under certain conditions?

Yes, Higher temperatures can lead to a change of the water temperatures which can be warm enough to generate the bacteria. So under high temperatures, it is more likely.

How can I prevent it?

NF has been shown to thrive in warm saltwater and the port of entry for the bacteria is through openings in the skin. As long as you are covering or protecting your open cuts or sores on a warm summer day at the beach, then you are taking the most preventative measures you can. 

Is it treatable?

If caught early enough, yes it can be caught and minor damages will be things like nerve or tissue damage. If you don't bring immediate attention to the infected area then it can cause the loss of limbs or in extreme measures even death.


An American was doing missionary work in Mozambique and told of his dealings with N.F. “On the morning of our departure from Mozambique, we took one final stroll down the beach. I noticed an itchy spot on the top of my left foot that was looking a bit swollen. Soon, my foot was really bothering me and I could hardly bear to wear my sandals. By the time we boarded our plane a few hours later, I was getting more and more uncomfortable. We flew from Mozambique to Dubai, by the time the plane landed my foot was so sore I couldn’t keep any kind of shoe on. After the night in Dubai, my foot was so very swollen and painful. The next day we found an American who on hearing the description of my situation strongly advised going to emergency at the hospital and I said I would go the next day. When I removed the bandage in the morning I was horrified at what I saw, our doctor friend rushed over to have a look. His immediately said, “We’re going to the hospital and you’ll be admitted.” They took me for an X-ray, and within a short time I was in the operating theatre. This was all in three days. The next morning when the bandage was removed I gasped at the huge hole in my foot as a result of the debridement. In less than 48 hours it had turned from some red patches to a dark purple. By the next day, I was in the operating theatre again. Apparently the debridement had been too conservative and the adjacent area also had to be removed. The infectious disease specialist also had information for my husband. I overheard that the survival rates for necrotizing fasciitis were scary so that this was indeed a serious situation. Intravenous tubes were attached to both arms pumping heavy doses of antibiotics and penicillin into my body in an all-out effort to stop further spreading of the disease. During this time, we were extremely worried, hearing of numerous cases in America and Europe of people who had either died or lost body parts to this killer. The following days there was a steady stream of doctors and students filing through during dressing changes with photos taken for teaching purposes. Eventually, I was admitted to a different hospital that had a plastic surgery ward - the only one in the country. But before the skin graft could be done I had to have a vacuum pump bandage put on my foot to speed up the granulation process around the tendons. The pump completely restricted me to the bed, but fortunately the applicator was changed every 48 hours at which time I could leave the hospital for a few hours. Finally, the foot was ready for the graft. A rather large piece of skin was taken from my thigh, but I was told part of it was kept in the freezer in case it was needed later. It had a shelf life of 21 days. Overall, I spent more than 4 weeks there. The graft was fully successful and I was soon on my way home slowly to resume a more or less normal life. This whole ordeal happened in less than one month from being infected.” 

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