A Florida man fishing off the coast of Palm Harbor in the Gulf of Mexico contracted an infection with carnivorous bacteria last Saturday.
WFTS reported Ozona, Florida, native Mike Walton is being treated for meat-eating disease known as necrotizing fasciitis.
Walton sat on a fishing hook on Saturday. The next day his hand was swollen and black blisters had grown. He was once taken to the Fire Department at the General Hospital of Tampa. Fortunately, they were able to save his life and arm, resulting in amputation.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that more than one type of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology, this includes Vibrio vulnificus. This bacterium thrives in warm, brackish water and can cause infection from invading wounds or oyster consumption.
Last year, the Florida Department of Health reported 42 cases of Vibrio vulnificus and nine deaths.
The inhabitant of Ozona, Mike Walton, fell ill with a meat-eating disease and necrotizing fasciitis while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. (GoFundMe / Maria Kharitonova / Eric McLendon)
According to CDC, 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection.
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The risk of Vibrio vulnificus infection is highest between May and October when the sea, lake and river water are warmer according to the CDC. These months coincide with the hurricane season for the United States, stressing the importance of keeping wounds clean and out of the warm water.
People usually contract infection by diving into warm waters with open wounds or eating infected shellfish. Necrotizing fasciitis, however, does not always accompany Vibrio vulnificus infection.
The necrotizing fasciitis infected Mike Walton's hand after it was pinned to a fishing hook. (GoFundMe / Maria Kharitonova / Eric McLendon)
Between 2008 and 2018, there were at least 389 confirmed cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections and at least 99 deaths in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.
The CDC estimates that the bacteria in the United States cause about 205 infections each year and about one in seven dies of Vibrio vulnificus wound infection.
According to the CDC, the health risk "is primarily for people with a weakened immune system or an underlying disease, especially liver disease."
Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis include skin weakness, severe pain, fever, and black spots on the skin but are not limited to this.
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