The fear of Flesh Eating Disease caused a public panic in the Philippines after a media report that a "mysterious flesh-eating disease" is spreading in Pangasinan, a town in the northern part of the country. Health officers claimed that there is no case in the country yet, and the report was a hoax. In an interview with the Philippine Inquirer, Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa appealed to the media to be reminded of their roles and be responsible of their reports.
What is flesh-eating disease, and why rumors of it can spark a national panic similar to an apocalyptic doom? Below are 10 facts that you should know about flesh-eating disease.
1. Necrotizing Fasciitis Information.
Necrotizing Fasciitis or flesh-eating disease is a rare disease caused by bacteria. It hits deep layers of the skin and destroying fat and tissues. The bacterial infection spreads quickly through the area, making it appear "eaten" due to the extreme redness and necrosis of the muscles.
2. Flesh-Eating Disease is Deadly.
Though is rare, necrotizing fasciitis is often serious, killing about 1 out of 4 people who suffer from the infection. Since the symptoms of the disease may be mistaken for fever and other common sickness, flesh-eating disease is not easily diagnosed. Some cases require patients to undergo amputation to survive.
3. The Causes.
Flesh-eating disease is caused many types of bacteria like Group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes), Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Bacteroides fragilis, Aeromonas hydrophila, according to Wikipedia. Group A streptococcus is the type of bacteria that also cause strep throat and impetigo.
4. The Symptoms.
Red, swollen skin in the infected area that gradually turn into blisters. Fever, nausea, vomiting are common signs as well.
5. Anyone Can Get Infected.
Necrotizing Fasciitis does not choose its victim, anyone can be infected even those people who do not have health problems. According to WebMD, many people who get necrotizing fasciitis are in good health before they got infected; however, the risk is relatively low.
6. High Risk Individuals.
This bacterial infection impose higher risk to people who have: weak immune systems, chronic health problems (diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney disease), exposed cuts in the skin, including surgical wounds, cases of alcohol and drug abuse; and, people who undergone abdominal surgery.
7. How is it Diagnosed?
The doctor will diagnose the condition according to the symptoms the patient has experienced. Bacterial test of the infected tissue may be done, including CT scans and MRIs.
8. Is There a Treatment?
Yes. Medical treatment is available for the condition. For severe cases, debridement or removal of infected tissues may be necessary.
9. Preventive Measures.
Keeping away from the bacteria that causes the disease is the best defence one can exercise. Wash your hands frequently, and keep burns, bites, and wounds clean.
10. Notable Survivor. Flesh-eating disease is a fatal illness, and life may never be the same for its victims, but Amy Copeland, a survivor from Georgia chose to live positively.