Home / Health / A flesh-eating bacteria kills a Memphis man who has visited Florida's waterways

A flesh-eating bacteria kills a Memphis man who has visited Florida's waterways

"The flesh-eating bacteria look like an urban legend, let me assure you that this is not the case – it cost my father's life," Cheryl Bennett Wiygul wrote in a Facebook message confirmed by Affiliate of CNN, WCYB.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government's public health agency, Vibrio causes about 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year in the United States. People with vibriosis are infected either by eating raw or undercooked seafood or by exposing a sore to seawater.

Wiygul begins by describing the ordeal of his family, noting that his father had a compromised immune system because of cancer.

"He battled cancer for many years and was in the water many times, so that did not seem like a risk," she wrote.

However, due to recent reports of infections among people who have visited Florida beaches, Ms. Wiygul said that she had studied the subject and took precautions when her parents had traveled to Memphis at beginning of July. Her father "had no open wounds" and she made sure that the few scratches on her arms "were perfectly sealed," she wrote.

During their visit, she and her parents spent time in a boat on the bay, paddling and swimming in a bayou, swimming in a creek, swimming in a pool and surrendering. at the beach of Destin.

"Dad stayed awake late Friday night and watched a movie," wrote Wiygul, adding that he "seemed to feel good as he had done all week".

Yet at 4 o'clock on Saturday, only 12 hours after their last bath, he woke up with fever, chills and cramps.

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He worsened on the way back to Memphis, said Wiygul: "His legs began to hurt a lot of legs, and he became extremely uncomfortable."

The Memphis Baptist Hospital admitted him at 8 pm and saw a "terribly swollen black spot on his back". Wiygul's mother informed the health workers that they were in the water in Florida and therefore thought that the place could be necrotizing fasciitis.
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The hospital has prescribed intravenous antibiotics, said his daughter.

More black spots appeared on his skin and "he suffered a lot," she wrote. "At 1 am, he became a septic and they transferred him to the USI. (…) They said that his organs were too damaged and that his blood was too acidic to stay alive He had left Sunday afternoon. "

Wednesday's laboratory results confirmed Wiygul's suspicions: "Vibrio vulnificus, manifested by necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), eventually leading to sepsis," she said.

The hospital confirmed that Wiygul's father had been treated on the spot, but did not provide further details about his condition. Wiygul did not respond to CNN's request for further comments.

How Vibrio can be deadly

Most Vibrio infections occur between May and October, when the water temperature is hot. According to the CDC, carnivorous bacteria prevent the flow of blood and cause tissue death and skin degradation.

In this way, more than one type of bacteria can eat the flesh; Public health experts believe that group A streptococcal bacteria are the most common cause of these infections. Vibrio infections occur when someone eats raw or undercooked seafood or when an open wound is exposed to seawater or brackish water.

According to the CDC, blunt trauma that does not tear the skin can also allow the introduction of carnivorous bacteria. Several antibiotics can treat these injuries, although when cases become severe, skin grafts and surgeries may be necessary.

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Good wound care is the best way to prevent any bacterial infection of the skin, according to the CDC. It is important to clean even minor cuts and wounds that tear the skin with water and soap. Always clean and cover open or drained wounds with dry dressings until healing. And consult a doctor for puncture and other serious or deep injuries.

The Florida Department of Health also suggests that people who are immunocompromised, such as chronic liver disease, kidney disease or weakened immune systems, should wear adequate foot protection to prevent cuts and injuries caused by rocks. and shells on the beach ".

Wiygul said the people "needed to know how to be more careful and recognize the symptoms," and she hoped that they would pass on the information so that "it could help somebody." ;other".

"I absolutely do not try to scare people from the beach or swimming," she wrote. "I love water and my father too."

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