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Rare illnesses still need a diagnosis: Necrotizing fasciitis

If you go swimming in local lakes or head down south to Florida or other states to go out on the water, there is a risk that you could get an infection from a flesh-eating bacteria. Since this type of disease, also known as necrotizing fasciitis, is so dangerous, it’s important that medical providers recognize and treat it as soon as possible.

Though necrotizing fasciitis is a rare disease and skin infection, it is something that has been seen throughout the United States over the last several years. The illness progresses quickly, particularly in patients with immunocompromised conditions. A delayed diagnosis or inaccurate treatment may lead to serious complications or death.

Know the risk factors for necrotizing fasciitis

You are more at risk of developing this illness if you:

  • Have open wounds on the skin that may put you at risk of an infection
  • Have recently had chicken pox
  • Use corticosteroids, which may reduce the body’s immune response
  • Have current skin infections or rashes

Some common ways to “catch” this illness include:

  • Getting infected from salt water fish, raw oysters or seashells
  • From insect bites
  • From gunshot wounds

In 2017 in Ohio, the Little Miami River was recognized as containing some flesh-eating bacteria.

A quick diagnosis is essential

For people with this bacterial infection, it’s important to get a diagnosis quickly. X-rays, computerized tomography scans or other tests may be used to identify the severity of the necrosis. Blood tests or tissue samples may also be used to identify the cause of the illness and to make sure the right antibiotics are used in its treatment.

Treatment for this condition may include using antibiotics and having surgery to debride the infected tissues. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be used. In severe cases, amputation may be used to help stop the spread of the infection.

A medical misdiagnosis of this condition could lead to a fatality. If you suffer complications or lose a loved one because a medical provider did not provide an accurate diagnosis, then they may be at fault for medical malpractice and could be responsible for covering a family’s financial losses.