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Necrotising Fasciitis
Who's most at risk of contracting Necrotising Fasciitis?

Who's most at risk of contracting Necrotising Fasciitis?

Necrotising Fasciitis is a life-threatening condition that can develop and spread through the body within days. Although many people do recover, it is a condition with a high mortality rate. Are some people more susceptible to this terrible disease than others?

What is necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection. It can be caused by a number of different bacteria which, having once entered the body, reproduce, spreading toxins and destroying the body's deep tissue. This requires the affected area to be surgically removed, even to the point of amputation, in order to stop the spread of the disease.

Who is at risk?

Anybody can contract necrotising fasciitis. Because it can be caused by several different bacteria, many of which exist on the surface of the skin already, it only requires an opening in the skin to allow the bacteria to enter the deep tissue layer of the body. This means that anyone who has a cut, an insect bite or even a scratch can be at risk.

People in hospital with a wound or undergoing surgery are at a greater risk as the bacteria have a greater chance of entering the body.

Someone who injects themselves regularly, such as someone with diabetes or a drug user is, therefore, also at a higher risk.

Underlying risk factors

The body has its own defence systems and the more healthy an individual is, the greater their chances of fighting off an attack of necrotising fasciitis. Of course, the opposite is also true. Those people who already have a weaker or compromised immune system will find it harder to fight against and to recover from the illness. This is likely to include the following groups:

  • The elderly
  • Someone with a pre-existing illness whose immune system is already under pressure
  • Someone who is obese
  • Someone undergoing treatment, such as chemotherapy, that affects their immune system detrimentally

In addition there are some illnesses, such as chickenpox, where bacteria might enter the body via a blister, which seem to make the patient more vulnerable to a necrotising fasciitis infection.

There has also been some research that suggests there may be a link between poverty and necrotising fasciitis, where individuals may have less access to high standards of hygiene, which is vital in keeping wounds clean but also in generally eliminating threatening bacteria.

Dealing with necrotising fasciitis

Risks associated with necrotising fasciitis are not, however, limited to avoiding the illness. Once a patient has contracted the disease they are at great risk unless it is diagnosed and treated urgently. Left untreated, necrotising fasciitis is always fatal. Even with treatment, it is thought that up to 40% of patients do not survive.

Even though it may be unclear which type of bacteria has brought about the condition, it is vital that the patient is immediately put on a course of intravenous antibiotics to help fight it. Additionally, the removal of all tissue already affected is necessary. This requires on-going surgical debridement until all damaged tissue has been removed.

Necrotising fasciitis and medical negligence

If your symptoms of necrotising fasciitis were missed and your diagnosis and treatment have been delayed, you may be entitled to compensation to help you deal with the effects of your illness. Contact us at Glynns Solicitors to discuss your situation.

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