Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a bacterial infection. These bacteria can attack the skin, subcutaneous fat, the muscle sheath (fascia), and the muscle. The infection can cause gangrene, tissue death, systemic disease, and death.
NF can occur in an extremity following a minor trauma, or after some other type of opportunity for the bacteria to enter the body such as surgery.
The Group A Strep infection (flesh eating bacteria) is most common with minor trauma. A mixed bacterial infection after surgery is often the cause.
In order for someone to contract NF, the bacteria must be introduced into the body. This occurs either from direct contact or because of the bacteria already being carried by the person.
Group A Strep is the same bacteria that causes strep throat. However, there are various strains of the bacteria, some of which are more powerful than others. If the right set of conditions is present, necrotizing fasciitis occurs.
The conditions are:
- A person usually has to have a contusion, abrasion, cut, or opening in the skin in order to have the bacteria enter, however, spontaneous cases where no apparent injury can be found, are also reported.
- They have to come into contact with the bacteria, either through direct contact with a carrier, or because the bacteria is present on the person.
- It usually is an invasive strain or serotype, of the strep.