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Critical Illness Series - Infectious Diseases Part 2

infectious diseases part 2

Table of Contents

What is Cerebrospinal Meningitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Cerebrospinal Meningitis?

How is Cerebrospinal Meningitis Usually Treated?

Can Cerebrospinal Meningitisbe Prevented?

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis?

How is Necrotizing Fasciitis Usually Treated?

Can Necrotizing Fasciitis be Prevented?

What is a Osteomyelitis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Osteomyelitis?

How is Osteomyelitis Usually Treated?

Can Osteomyelitis be Prevented?

What is Tuberculosis?

What are the Usual Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

How is Tuberculosis Usually Treated?

Can Tuberculosis be Prevented?

Necrotizing Fasciitis

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Commonly known as “flesh-eating disease,” necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection thought to be most caused by group A Streptococcus. The bacteria commonly enter the body through some break in the skin such as cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds, and surgical wounds.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Early symptoms can include:

  • Red, warm, or swollen skin inflammation
  • Pain disproportional to the degree of inflammation
  • Fever

Early detection is important, so watch for these symptoms especially after an injury or a surgery.

Later symptoms can include:

  • Ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin
  • Changes in the color of the skin
  • Pus or oozing from the infected area
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Diarrhea or nausea

Doctors can diagnose necrotizing fasciitis by performing a biopsy, completing bloodwork and looking for signs of infection and/or muscle damage, and imaging the damaged area (CT scan, MRI, ultrasound).

How is Necrotizing Fasciitis Usually Treated?

IV antibiotics and surgery are the typical first treatments if there’s suspicion of necrotizing fasciitis. Early detection and early treatment are the most important factors in successful treatment.

Can Necrotizing Fasciitis be Prevented?

Taking extra care of wounds can help prevent skin infections such as necrotizing fasciitis.

Clean all your minor cuts and injuries with soap and water.

Clean and cover draining or open wounds with clean, dry bandages until they heal. Replace the bandages as often as needed to avoid drainage from soaking.

Visit your doctor for puncture or other deep/serious wounds or injuries.

Wash your hands with warm water and soap often. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if hand washing isn’t possible.

Care for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

Avoid spending time in hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.


What is Osteomyelitis?

From osteo meaning “bone,” myelo meaning “bone marrow,” and itis meaning “inflammation,” osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria or some other germs. Infections can also reach the bone indirectly from the bloodstream or nearby tissue.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Osteomyelitis?

Usual signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling, warmth, and redness over the area of the infection
  • Pain in the infection area
  • Fatigue

If you experience worsening bone pain along with fever, see your doctor as soon as you can.

How is Osteomyelitis Usually Treated?

Most people will have surgery to remove areas of the bone that are infected or have died. Strong IV antibiotics are also generally needed after the surgery.

Can Osteomyelitis be Prevented?

Preventing infections in general can help decrease risk of developing osteomyelitis. Avoid cuts, scrapes, and animal scratches or bites. As with helping to prevent necrotizing fasciitis, take extra care of wounds or injuries. Clean and cover minor cuts and injuries and see your doctor for more serious injuries.


What is Tuberculosis?

An infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While most commonly associated with the lungs, this bacterium can actually attack any part of the body, including the kidney, spine, and brain. Tuberculosis (TB) can be latent (TB infection) or active (TB disease) in our bodies.

What are the Usual Symptoms of Tuberculosis?

Symptoms can depend on where the bacteria are growing.

If growing in the lungs:

  • Bad cough lasting 3 weeks or longer
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up phlegm from deep inside the lungs (sputum) or blood

Other symptoms include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

How is Tuberculosis Usually Treated?

Tuberculosis generally requires strict medication regimens, whether it is a latent TB infection or TB disease.

Not everyone with TB bacteria becomes sick, but a medical professional would decide when to start treatment for latent TB. Latent TB can eventually develop into TB disease, so treating the infection promptly is important. Treatment regimens for latent TB infection may include: Isoniazid (INH), Rifapentine (RPT), and Rifampin (RIF).

Treatment for TB disease lasts for 6 to 9 months. If the patient stops taking the medication too soon, they put themselves at risk for getting sick again. If they do not take the drugs exactly as prescribed, they risk the TB bacteria becoming drug-resistant, meaning they become more difficult and expensive to treat.

Drug-susceptible TB treatment regimens may include: Isoniazid (INH), Rifampin (RIF), Ethambutol (EMB), and Pyrazinamide (PZA).

Can Tuberculosis be Prevented?

If you’re traveling out of the country, research whether tuberculosis is prevalent. Avoid close or prolonged time with TB patients in crowded, enclosed spaces.

While tuberculosis is not usually easy to catch, a TB disease positive person can still take steps to prevent friends, family, and other people from getting sick.

To lessen risk of transmission: Stay home, ventilate the room you’re staying in, cover your mouth when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or yawn, and wear a mask when you’re around others.

The person with TB disease should stop being contagious generally after a few weeks of treatment.

Treating latent TB infection generally prevents TB disease from developing, but your doctor will determine if or when to start a treatment regimen.

*This blog post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions or illnesses or act as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your health.

Back to Top

  1. CDC. Necrotizing Fasciitis: All You Need to Know
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Necrotizing Fasciitis.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Osteomyelitis.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Osteomyelitis.
  5. CDC. Tuberculosis (TB).
  6. Mayo Clinic. Tuberculosis.

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