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The authors report on 20 patients who were admitted to the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio during a recent 4-month period with foot infections caused predominantly by non-group A streptococci. This number of patients was significantly greater than the number admitted to the same institution with the same diagnosis during the preceding 3 years. All patients had type 2 diabetes mellitus. In each case, a rapidly spreading cellulitis followed trauma to the foot, which necessitated emergent incision and drainage. Five patients required extensive fascial and skin debridement because of soft-tissue destruction, and two patients needed below-the-knee amputation because of uncontrolled infection. These cases suggest that non-group A streptococci, like group A streptococci, can cause serious skin and soft-tissue infections in patients with diabetes that may require aggressive surgical debridement despite appropriate antibiotic therapy.
Recently the authors have noted a disturbing trend toward an increased incidence of necrotizing infections caused by non-group A streptococcal species. This article describes the typical clinical course of such an infection. Prompt surgical intervention, coupled with an antibiotic regimen aimed at mitigating exotoxin release, may be both limb- and life-preserving.