Due to the speed with which severe streptococcal infections can spread, early diagnosis of necrotising fasciitis and severe streptococcal infections will Increase the chance of survival, with minimal damage to the patient.
Necrotising Fasciitis when caused by streptococcal pyogenes can behave in a very fast, aggressive manner and may begin in an established wound or in broken skin and bruising. True statistics are difficult to obtain due to late diagnosis and the mortality rate of this horrific disease can be as high as 76%.
Bacteria spreads very rapidly in the tissues below the skin and infection progresses at inches per hour. The patient rapidly becomes unwell with flu-like symptoms, with possible vomiting and diarrhoea.
If not treated very quickly the skin over the affected area becomes dusky and purple, blisters may form and the skin dies. By this stage the infection has penetrated into the underlying tissues and the patient often develops toxic shock syndrome with collapse, low blood pressure and failure of the liver, kidneys and other vital organs.
Early external symptoms
- Usually a minor trauma, skin opening or wound, (possibly Cellulitis or Ulcers) PLEASE NOTE, the wound does not necessarily appear infected.
- Pain may develop at the site of the injury, or any other part of the body.
- The pain is usually disproportionate to the injury and may start as something akin to a muscle pull, but becomes more and more painful.
- Flu like symptoms begin to occur, such as diarrhoea, nausea, fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness, and general malaise.
- Intense thirst occurs as the body becomes dehydrated.
- The biggest symptom is all of these symptoms combined. In general you will probably feel worse than you’ve ever felt and not understand why.
- The limb, or area of the body experiencing pain begins to swell, and will show a red flaky rash.
Hopefully by this stage the patient will have received at least some antibiotic treatment as the internal symptoms may be advanced at this stage.
Advanced & Critical Symptoms
The patient must be admitted to hospital at this stage if not before.
- The limb may begin to have a large, navy blue rash, that will become blisters filled with blackish fluid.
- Blood pressure will drop severely. With low blood pressure, the blood is unable to deliver vital oxygen to the major organs.
- The body begins to go into toxic shock from the toxins the bacteria are giving off.
- Unconsciousness will occur as the body becomes too weak to fight off this infection.
It is vital that the symptoms be recognised before this stage and treatment must be sought immediately by the use of antibiotics. Extensive infection may require surgery to remove the infected area and possibly limbs.