Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious bacterial infection that can spread rapidly, destroying muscle and fat tissue in the body ("Necrotizing" means causing the death of tissues). It can be caused by more than one type of bacteria including group A Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Aeromonas hydrophila among others. Group A strep is considered the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis. Bacteria that cause necrotizing fasciitis are sometimes referred to as "flesh-eating bacteria."
Most cases of necrotizing fasciitis occur sporadically and are not linked to similar infections in others. The most common way of developing necrotizing fasciitis is when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, like a cut, scrape, burn, insect bite, or puncture wound. Necrotizing fasciitis is most common among people that have other health problems or are immune-compromised, such as those with diabetes, cancer, or kidney disease. Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment with antibiotics are important.
Necrotizing fasciitis is not reportable in Wisconsin unless accompanied by a positive culture of group A Streptococcus from a normally sterile (invasive) site.