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Necrotising cellulitis/fasciitis in Sao Tome and Principe

15 Nov 2017

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Link reported on 10 November 2017 that an outbreak of necrotising fasciitis/cellulitis in São Tomé and Príncipe continues. From September 2016 to 5 November 2017, 2 241 cases have been reported. The rate of new infections has increased slightly in recent weeks. While necrotising fasciitis can be fatal, no deaths have been confirmed in association with the outbreak.

All districts in the country have been affected, with the most affected being Caue, Lemba and Cantagalo. The least affected are Príncipe Island and Agua Grande.

The exact cause of the outbreak appears unclear.

Advice for Travellers

Necrotising fasciitis is a serious bacterial skin infection that destroys soft tissues and can be rapidly fatal.  It is caused by more than one type of bacterium, including Group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.

Symptoms can appear soon after a skin injury. There may be pain, swelling and discolouration followed by fever, vomiting and fatigue. Prompt diagnosis and antibiotic treatment is essential. Surgery may be necessary in more severe cases.

Necrotising fasciitis may be more severe in people with kidney disease or diabetes, or who have disorders of the immune system.

  • In general, maintain scrupulous personal hygiene.

  • Skin injuries should be protected and kept clean. Prompt first aid is important.

  • Water contact should be avoided, in particular pools, hot tubs, lakes and rivers.

  • Good footwear should be worn to prevent foot injuries and contact with soil.    

  • If symptoms develop as described above, seek prompt medical attention.