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Flesh Eating Bacteria September 29, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Health & Wellness, Nature, Travel & Leisure.

Starfish-in-the-waterThis weekend, I overheard an amputee explaining how he ended up with one less limb.

His story’s a bit grim.

He went to the beach for vacation in 2001 and woke up one morning with a sore leg.

By nightfall, he was in a coma.  When he “woke up,” his right leg had been amputated to evict a “flesh-eating bacteria.”

I am NOT including photos of necrotizing fascitis because they are way too nasty for all but the most stalwart . . . if you’ve got a strong stomach, you can see them HERE.

I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening on occasion . . . but usually due to going into the water with an open wound or eating raw seafood.

In this guy’s case, the doctors never found the point of entry.

There’s a warning for parts of Florida right now which recommends against eating raw shellfish or going into the water if you have an open wound.

As if sharks, jellyfish, and sting-rays weren’t enough to worry about while floating about in the waves.  It’s enough to keep a body on the beach.


If you’re wondering what to be grateful for tonight, not losing life and limb to flesh eating bacteria might be just the thing.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related stories:  Aimee Copeland Gets Prosthetic Hands (NY Daily News) * Flesh Eating Bacteria in Coastal Waters (Action News) * 26 Cases of Vibrio Vulnificus Reported Across State (First Coast News) * Flesh Eating Bacteria Found in Gulf (Wink News Now)


1. Grannymar - September 29, 2013

Flesh eating bacteria is scary stuff. I have a horror of walking anywhere, either indoor or out in my bare feet.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

I have the Heebie Jeebies about walking around barefoot or floating around in the waves at the moment. I expect that feeling will pass ~ most things we worry about don’t happen anyway.

2. Kathy - September 29, 2013

You’re right: I’m grateful. Eating raw shellfish isn’t my thing anyway, but I would like to feel free to wade in the water and walk barefoot on the sand. There’s a lot more to be careful about now than there was when I was a child, but determining just how careful you should be isn’t easy.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

That is such a great point ~ sometimes the biggest risk of all is to try to avoid all risks. Just think how much we miss out on if we are always “playing it safe.”

3. ericjbaker - September 29, 2013

People can take comfort in statistics here. Your chances of contracting necrotizing fascitis are about the same as getting hit by lighting and bit by a poisonous spider on the same day.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

So, about the same risk as getting eaten by Zombies during World War Z after enjoying a home-cooked dinner with Angelina and Brad? 😉

I DO feel better!

4. katecrimmins - September 29, 2013

Sigh! Life was simpler when as a child I just had to worry about doing well in school.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

You’ve got a point, Kate! Oh, to be a kid again . . . with parents to protect us from extraneous worries wobbling about.

katecrimmins - September 29, 2013

yes, like flesh eating bacteria!

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

I can think of so many ways adults protected and insulated us from “the truth” growing up. Adults these days don’t do nearly as well at letting kids be kids.

5. colonialist - September 29, 2013

Dang – I didn’t even know about it, so was immune. Now, should I give up being mainly barefoot around the garden, forest and beach?
And after hacking undergrowth on my way down – it attacks one back – I often enter the sea with open wounds …

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

I always thought that the salt water sped healing . . . and I’m not about to give up going barefoot. It’s probably more dangerous to drive on the Interstate anyway.

6. Patricia - September 29, 2013

Yes it is scary. But there are those that survive this without losing parts or life. Like me.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

Really! Wow . . . I’m glad to hear it. Like most news reports, bad news is over reported and good news is under reported. I came across a few stories of survival and complete recovery, but the focus tended to be on those who lost a limb or died.

Thanks for the positive outlook, Patricia. Glad you made it.

7. Jodi - September 29, 2013

Yikes. That’s pretty grim stuff.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

Yup. The sudden and unexpected nature of the bacterial infection makes it creepy. But the risk seems pretty low ~ about 725 cases a year in the US.

What got my attention today ~ 9 deaths in the state of FL this year. And current warnings in effect.

8. Three Well Beings - September 29, 2013

There have been a number of stories like this over the past few years and they really creep me out! There is something so random about how a wound can be vulnerable to an infection that ravages the body like this. I can’t imagine what people have suffered! I like your statement about being thankful…goodness knows I’ve been a little “beaten up” this month, but I have all my limbs! I AM grateful.

nrhatch - September 29, 2013

I am with you 100% ~ many tragedies are “random” but there’s something weird about being invaded by microscopic bacteria that can do so much harm so quickly. Here today, gone tonight.

Also, when I went paddle boarding yesterday, the lake was murky and I had a small cut on my leg from running into the corner of the dishwasher the night before ~ my imagination went wild when I started digging and found current warnings for our area. Ack! 😯

9. Tammy - September 30, 2013

Yuck and I did eat raw oysters tonight.

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

That’s a practice you might wish to re-consider ~ weighing the risks and benefits.

10. jannatwrites - September 30, 2013

Wow, that’s a scary story. This is especially frightening because it seems fairly random and happens so quickly. At least he lived to scare the crap out of everyone else…I mean, to tell his story 🙂

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Hearing him tell his story didn’t scare me since it happened more than 10 years ago. Doing a bit of research on the subject was more eye-opening . . . there have been 9 deaths in FL so far this year, including a woman in Tampa last month. 😯

11. Sandra Bell Kirchman - September 30, 2013

Holy Toledo! Flesh-eating bacteria!! What makes it even scarier for me is that I have a persistent rash that I am having trouble getting rid of. Hubby teases me and tells me I’d better get rid of it before it turns into flesh-eating bacteria. Eeek!

However, my doctor doesn’t seem too worried, just tells me to stick to the medications he has prescribed. And I have lived over seven decades without losing any vital body parts. So I’ll settle for being grateful.

Footnote: Here in Saskatchewan we are subject to West Nile disease carried by mosquitoes. It’s rare to contract it, but still…mosquitoes!!

nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Flesh-Eating Bacteria . . . oh my! Not thoughts conducive to peace and calm. 😕

With all the things that CAN go wrong, we have LOTS to be grateful for, eh? We can walk and talk and enjoy music and food and sunsets and books and movies. Aah . . . better!

12. Don - September 30, 2013


nrhatch - September 30, 2013

Yes! Like Zombies that you can’t see coming. 😯

13. Pix Under the Oaks - October 1, 2013

Just read about a similar case yesterday. Scary stuff. Google cellulitis.. beware photos. CH battled cellulitis most all of this summer in his big toe that spread to his whole foot. Just got it under control after taking antibiotics all summer. Dr. is pretty sure he got it from stubbing his toe in sandals and then working outside in sandals in our rural mix of gosh knows what in the soil. Ick. I was worried!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nrhatch - October 1, 2013

I am glad it now appears to be under control, Pix. Stuff like that is scary. And once bitten, twice shy. Skin is our largest organ and a wonderful protective barrier, keeping the “body snatchers” at bay ~ most of the time.

Even with all the creepy crawlies out there, I’m not ready to hang up my flip flops yet. 😎

Pix Under the Oaks - October 1, 2013

I’m still wearing my sandals but not out and about the Tiny Ten! I bought a pair of Keens with rubber toes.. 🙂

nrhatch - October 1, 2013

Sounds like a good compromise . . . better protection for your toes.

14. Booksphotographsandartwork - October 8, 2013

Good golly we aren’t safe anywhere anymore! It certainly wasn’t a day at the beach for that guy was it?!

nrhatch - October 8, 2013

No. That’s exactly what I thought. Spooky and creepy. 😯

15. bluebee - October 9, 2013

😯 horror

nrhatch - October 9, 2013

It’s rather a nasty bit of business, eh? At least with gators and sharks you can see them coming . . . if you’re looking the right way at the right time.

16. Perfecting Motherhood - October 10, 2013

With all the flesh bacteria lurking in lakes, ponds, and sea, I think I’ll stick to my local pool, thank you!

nrhatch - October 10, 2013

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