A Florida man contracted a flesh-eating bacteria called vibrio without ever coming into contact with the warm, brackish water where it typically lives, officials say.
Tyler King was at work in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, last week when his left arm starting to swell, according to CBS News. He took Benadryl to try to calm the reaction, but was later rushed to the emergency room after his arm had swelled to nearly triple its size in just a few hours.
Doctors found that King — who owns a water sports business but says he did not directly touch the water that day — contracted vibrio.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with vibriosis become infected by consuming raw or undercooked seafood or exposing a wound to seawater. Most infections occur from May through October when water temperatures are warmer.”
King says he’s glad he acted swiftly. “When I was a little bit younger, I probably would have tried to tough it out. Well, that would have been the worst thing that I could do,” King told CBS News. “If I had gone to sleep … and had woke up with it at the rate it was spreading, I might not have an arm right now.”
Experts say higher temperatures are to blame.
“Waters are getting warmer and the bacteria love warmer water, so we’re all at higher risk,” said CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus. “Once that bacteria has spread in the bloodstream to the organs, sometimes it’s too hard to treat … but just pay attention. Don’t be afraid of the ocean, but be aware of what’s going on.”
This latest incident comes on the heels of several other cases of flesh-eating bacteria that have garnered national attention.
Earlier this week, a Maryland mom issued a warning on Facebook after her son contracted the bacteria while swimming in Maryland’s Sinepuxent Bay near Ocean City. A few days prior, the family of Lynn Fleming, 77, spoke out after she died following a leg scrape while walking on a Florida beach and contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a more severe type of flesh-eating bacteria. And last month, doctors worked to save an Indiana girl’s right leg and her life after she also contracted necrotizing fasciitis in Florida.
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