Monday 1 May 2017

Two cases of rare flesh-eating disease in one maternity unit

Two pregnant women have been treated for a potentially life-threatening and rare ‘flesh-eating’ disease at the same hospital. Stock photo
Two pregnant women have been treated for a potentially life-threatening and rare ‘flesh-eating’ disease at the same hospital. Stock photo

Greg Harkin and Eilish O'Regan

Two pregnant women have been treated for a potentially life-threatening and rare 'flesh-eating' disease at the same hospital.

Medical staff at Letterkenny University Hospital's maternity unit in Donegal treated the women in May and June for necrotising fasciitis.

There were two unconnected confirmed cases of necrotising fasciitis in the maternity unit.

The condition is a serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin, and surrounding muscles and organs.

The bacteria release toxins that damage nearby tissue.

Necrotising fasciitis can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but gets worse quickly and is a medical emergency.

A spokeswoman said it cannot be spread to the baby.

She said that standard treatment was applied to address the condition, including removal of damaged tissue and antibiotics.

There have been several cases of the infection across the country in the past 10 years, causing some deaths.

The advice is to clean a wound quickly and cover it with dressing or plaster.

The main treatments for the disease include surgery to remove infected tissue, antibiotics and treatments to control blood pressure.

Each year, 600 million people worldwide have a group A streptococcus infection. In rare cases, the bacteria go deeper into the body to cause more serious "invasive" infections.

This can include pneumonia and the "flesh-eating" skin infection. People who survive the infection are sometimes left with long-term disability.

Irish Independent

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