MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WATN) – A man from Memphis died this week after being infected with a flesh-eating bacteria after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
The man's daughter, Cheryl Wiygul, is from Memphis but now lives near Destin, Florida. She says people need to be careful if they plan to go to the beach. She believes that people also need to be better informed and that signs should be posted on the beaches.
His father had no open wounds, but his immune system was weakened by the fight against cancer. She thinks that's how he got sick of a flesh-eating bacteria and died two days after the infection.
"He got sick before. He was able to fight. We are cautious with him, therefore, and he has been to the beach during treatment, "said Wiygul.
Wiygul could not wait for his parents to visit him in Destin, Florida. The Memphis couple arrived on June 30 and spent the holidays on July 4 with their daughter and grandchildren.
A few hours after his last swim in the ocean before returning to Memphis, Wiygul's father became ill, suffering from body aches, chills and fever. He has been fighting cancer for years. The family has always been cautious.
"People need to know that if you have an immune system problem, you will not be in the water," Wiygul said.
The family did not realize that some bacteria in warm oceans and lake water could become deadly. But that's what it did to his father. The doctors found a dark spot on his back. He became skeptical and two days after being at the beach, Wiygul's father passed away. She wants others to understand how bad it is.
"Once it enters someone's body through the consumption of shellfish or by a cut, it can turn into flesh-eating bacteria," Wiygul said.
It affects people like his father who have a weak immune system, according to Dr. Stephen Threlkeld, an infectious infectious disease.
"It can become a lot more serious and actually get into the bloodstream and make you skeptical, and very frequently or even fatal," said Dr. Threlkeld.
A few cases have been reported off the coast from Florida to New Jersey. It is impossible to say exactly how many people have been affected. But CDC reports there are about a thousand cases nationwide each year.