- A man from Florida is being treated for a flesh-eating disease after acquiring a fish hook injury on April 20 while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
- According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnology, Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria that lives in warm waters and infects people through entry into open wounds and infects shellfish consumption, can cause necrotizing.
- Infection risks are at its highest between May and October when the waters in the ocean, river and lakes are warmer.
While fishing on a Saturday on April 20th, a man from Florida got infected with flesh-eating bacteria while off the coast of Palm Harbor in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ozona, Florida native Mike Walton’s hand had grown swollen and covered with black blisters one day after his hand was caught on a fish hook. He was rushed to the burn unit at the Tampa General Hospital, where luckily, doctors were able to save his life and prevented his arm from amputation.
According to WFTS reports, Mike Walton is now being treated for necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease.
There is more than one type of bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A study by the National Center for Biotechnology cites Vibrio vulnificus as that other type that survives in warm, brackish water and causes infection by entering wounds or eating oysters.
There were 42 Vibrio vulnificus cases and nine deaths reported by the Florida Department of Health last year. Furthermore, 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis dies from the infection, according to the CDC.
Risks of getting infected with Vibrio vulnificus are highest when the ocean, lake and river waters are warmer between the months of May and October. Since these months occur simultaneously with the hurricane season in the U.S., it is extremely important to keep wounds clean as well as out of warm waters.
While it is typical for people to get an infection by wading into warm water with open wounds or consuming infected shellfish, necrotizing fasciitis does not always come with a Vibrio vulnificus infection.
Predominantly, these infections affect people with compromised immune systems or underlying illness particularly liver disease. Its symptoms likely include but are not limited to rapid swelling in the skin, severe pain, fever and black spots growing on the skin.
From 2008 to 2018, there have been at least 389 confirmed Vibrio vulnificus infection cases and at least 99 deaths in Florida. Every year, the bacteria is estimated by the CDC to cause about 205 infections in the U.S. and about one in seven people die from the infection.