Necrotizing fasciitis (NF), commonly known as flesh-eating disease or flesh-eating bacteria syndrome, is a rare infection of the deeper layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues, easily spreading across the fascial plane within the subcutaneous tissue.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a quickly progressing and severe disease of sudden onset and is usually treated immediately with high doses of intravenous antibiotics.
Type I describes a polymicrobial infection, whereas Type II describes a monomicrobial infection. Many types of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis (e.g., Group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes), Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio vulnificus, Clostridium perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis). Such infections are more likely to occur in people with compromised immune systems.
Historically, Group A streptococcus made up most cases of Type II infections. However, since as early as 2001, another serious form of monomicrobial necrotizing fasciitis has been observed with increasing frequency. In these cases, the bacterium causing it is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the antibiotic used in the laboratory that determines the bacterium’s sensitivity to flucloxacillin or nafcillin that would be used for treatment clinically.
Some published case reports have implied a possible link between use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and NF, though the evidence of the link was said to be weak because of a small number of case patients and it was unclear whether the drugs just masked the symptoms of a secondary infection or were a cause per se.
Stem cell treatments are a type of intervention strategy that introduces new cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects.
See also: Cell therapy
A number of stem cell therapies exist, but most are at experimental stages or costly, with the notable exception of bone marrow transplantation. Medical researchers anticipate that adult and embryonic stem cells will soon be able to treat cancer, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Celiac Disease, cardiac failure, muscle damage and neurological disorders, and many others. Nevertheless, before stem cell therapeutics can be applied in the clinical setting, more research is necessary to understand stem cell behavior upon transplantation as well as the mechanisms of stem cell interaction with the diseased/injured microenvironment.
ATLANTA – A Georgia college student who has already lost a leg to a rare, flesh-eating bacterial infection is now expected to suffer the loss of her fingers too, her father said.
Aimee Copeland, 24, was kayaking and zip-lining along the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton, Georgia, on May 1 when the line broke and she sustained a cut to her calf.
Emergency room doctors closed the wound with 22 staples and released the woman, a graduate student at West Georgia University, her father wrote in a post on Facebook.
The next day, Copeland complained of severe pain and returned to the emergency room where she was given a prescription pain killer. The pain continued and the following day she went to a doctor who gave her a prescription for antibiotics. The doctor also ordered a magnetic resonance imaging test which was negative, her father said.
On May 4, Copeland was pale and weak and went to a hospital where doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Copeland, who already suffered the amputation of a leg at the hip, was still listed in critical condition on Sunday, said Barclay Bishop, spokeswoman for Doctor’s Hospital in Augusta.
She would not provide any other details, but Aimee’s father, Andy Copeland, said in a web posting over the weekend that her fingers were also likely to be lost to the infection ravaging her body.
He said she may retain the use of her palms after surgery, however, something that would potentially leave her with enough muscle control to use prosthetics.
Doctors are “awaiting a safe time” before conducting further surgery, the father wrote.
Necrotizing fasciitis is often initially overlooked by doctors because it invades tissue deep inside the wound while the outer wound appears to be healing normally, Dr. William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt University Medical School said.
“This often is a very subtle infection initially,” Schaffner said. “These bacteria lodge in the deeper layers of the wound. The organism is deep in the tissues and that’s where it’s causing its mischief.”
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– Contributed by Oogle.