A man contracted flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing at a Louisiana beach and is in the intensive care unit at a local hospital, according to his family and media reports.
The man, Jessie Abshire, contracted the bacteria in ankle-deep water in Cameron Parish, according to KPLC.
Cameron Parish is about 235 miles west of New Orleans.
Abshire’s daughter, Amanda Savoie, posted on Facebook on June 16 that her dad was in need of prayer. On June 23, she posted that he was going into surgery and the following day wrote that doctors had still not been able to extubate him.
“Just pray he can come off the sedation and get extubated so he doesn’t have to get a trach and peg tube,” she wrote, referring to tracheostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tubes, which help patients eat and breathe. “God is able and he’s holding us through this.”
Savoie did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
So-called “flesh-eating bacteria” can cause an infection of the skin or soft tissue that spreads rapidly and often requires surgery to intervene, Stacey Rose, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, told McClatchy News. Rose said she could not comment on Abshire’s case specifically and could only speak generally about these types of infections.
Flesh-eating bacteria do not actually eat the flesh but rather cause soft tissue to die, she said.
The scientific name for most flesh-eating bacteria is necrotizing fasciitis, according to WebMd.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that naturally occurs in warm, brackish water and is often referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria” according to the Florida Department of Health.
While these types of bacteria can be present in the water, whether a person gets infected and the severity of the infection is determined by a person’s overall health and whether they have underlying conditions, Rose said. People with open wounds are more likely to get infected and those with underlying diseases, such as liver diseases, have a higher risk, she said.
“For the most part, enjoying water sports is reasonably safe, but there are always organisms around us,” she said.
The key, she said, is seeking treatment early if you suspect you’ve been infected.
“If you notice pain, redness or blistering, go to the doctor and don’t delay,” she said.