“The disease is one of the most dramatic conditions that we see in orthapedic surgery. It has an extremely quick onset which can make it seem truly dramatic,” Olof Sköldenberg, orthopedist at the hospital, told the Dagens Medicin newspaper.
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating disease, is an extremely aggressive bacteria that can kill a human in less than a day. The disease attacks the tissue and the deeper layers of skin, and can have a sudden onset. All infected tissue must be removed immediately for an infected person to survive.
In northern Stockholm’s Danderyd Hospital, 23 cases of the disease have been recorded between 2010 and 2012. During the previous two-year period, only one case had been reported by the hospital.
“This is a huge increase. It could be because it has become easier to identify the condition, but we think it’s rather due to a genuine increase,” Sköldenberg added.
A nationwide investigation has been launched to determine whether the disease is spreading further than just in Stockholm.
As to why the disease is now showing increased signs of infection, the paper noted that it may be due to the bacteria becoming stronger, or people’s immune system not reacting as strongly to it.
The disease, in which sufferers can lose limbs or be opened from the waist to the foot, affects 0.4 people per 100,000 in the western world.
It can be caught through eating undercooked meat, proximity to human sewage when used as fertilizer, or sharing used needles.