19 Sep 2009

Call for research into flesh-eating epidemic

4:46 pm on 19 September 2009

There's a call for urgent research into a growing epidemic of flesh-eating disease.

Researchers at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine have found a five-fold increase since 1990 of the disease known as "necrotising fasciitis" to about 80 cases a year.

A public health physician and senior lecturer at the University of Otago, Michael Baker, says the incidence of the disease is growing in the way the meningococcal disease did a decade ago.

Associate Professor Baker says the disease is now causing about 15 deaths a year and not enough is known about how to stop it. He says the Health Research Council needs to fund studies into the disease because he knows of no groups currently investigating it.