In rare circumstances patients with advanced bed sores (stage 3 or stage 4) may contract necrotizing fasciitis– also referred to as flesh eating bacteria. Because people with severe bed sores literally have an open wound, they are at a higher risk for contracting the infection causing bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis. The early stages of necrotizing fasciitis are characterized by severe pain and swelling in the area of the infection frequently accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting.
Rather than ‘eating’ the flesh, as is commonly suggested, necrotizing fasciitis infection causes flesh to die. Necrotizing fasciitis may be treated in the early stages with antibiotics. As it advances, more severe surgical treatment is usually necessary to maximize recovery rates. The mortality rate for people wit necrotizing fasciitis is over 70%.