Man Undergoes Surgery After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria While Fishing

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 5, 2019USshare
Man Undergoes Surgery After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria While Fishing
The flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

A Texas man underwent surgery after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria, Vibrio, while fishing in late June, family members said.

Daniel Jones, 79, was fishing with his son-in-law off Ransom Island around June 23. When he returned home, his hand started hurting.

“He noticed his hand was starting to hurt, so he went to bed,” Cindy Jones-Anderson, the man’s daughter, told KRIS-TV. “About two o’clock in the morning it woke him up throbbing, and his hand had swollen twice the size.”

He was rushed to a hospital and diagnosed with a Vibrio infection.

Jones’s wife Marilyn Jones said that he has had three surgeries and will require plastic surgery for the hand that got swollen.

Dr. Michael Wetz with Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute told KZTV that Vibrio is common in south Texas, particularly in the summer, but noted that infections are rare.

“Generally, the water is safe for most people,” explains Dr. Wetz, “There’s this handful of people that are more susceptible it seems like to these Vibrio infections.”

Lynn Fleming is seen with her grandchildren Jonathan and Jensen Fleming.
Lynn Fleming is seen with her grandchildren Jonathan and Jensen Fleming. Fleming, 77, contracted Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria, while on vacation in Florida and was eventually killed from complications stemming from the infection. (Wade Fleming via AP)

Recent Vibrio Infections

Three recent Vibrio cases have been reported, including one that proved fatal.

A 77-year-old Pennsylvania woman contracted the flesh-eating bacteria after falling and scraping her leg while walking on Coquina Beach in Florida, relatives said. She was rushed to a hospital but eventually died after suffering two strokes and organ failure.

A Maryland boy contracted Vibrio while swimming on June 23, his mother said. She said little spots on his body turned into open wounds.

“I had thought he was scratching them, making them worse. Only to find when I picked him up Tuesday they were a lot bigger and a lot more,” she wrote, noting it was eventually diagnosed as Vibrio, a flesh-eating bacteria, by doctors at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

And a Florida man said that he contracted Vibrio while paddling in late June across a lake even though he didn’t enter the water.

“I NEVER got in the water,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I DID NOT have any open wounds, NOR did I swim in any water that day. It is 100 percent unknown as to why or how I was infected.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Vibrio causes an estimated 100 deaths in the United States every year out of some 80,000 illnesses.

“Most infections occur from May through October when water temperatures are warmer,” the agency stated.

“A clinician may suspect vibriosis if a patient has watery diarrhea and has recently eaten raw or undercooked seafood, especially oysters, or when a wound infection occurs after exposure to seawater. Infection is diagnosed when Vibrio bacteria are found in the stool, wound, or blood of a patient who has symptoms of vibriosis,” it added.

Treatment usually includes drinking plenty of liquid and, in severe cases, antibiotics.

The Maryland Department of Health recommends people staying out of the water if they have skin wounds or infection. People can also wear water shoes when going into the water to prevent cuts and should take care when handling live crabs.

Another precaution is always taking a shower after contact with natural waters.

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