James Mitchell and his family were taking their usual trip to Colonial Beach, Virginia — one they have made many times before.
However, while heading to Pennsylvania the next day, Mitchell had to be rushed to the hospital after he began to feel unwell, the Maryland resident told CBS.
“[My wife] actually looked at my leg, my ankles and all had swollen up. My leg was swelling,” Mitchell told the outlet. “In addition, my leg became very hot and actually the skin tone itself changed colors.”
While at the beach on July 13 in Virginia, Mitchell had slipped on a rock, sustaining a small cut to his leg “no bigger than the size of a penny” he had told CBS.
“I ended up stepping on a rock, slipping on a rock,” Mitchell explained. “I ended up hitting the rock and ended up hitting my leg right here.”
“We’re talking about a simple cut of the leg, no bigger than the size of the penny, which stopped bleeding — and that was it,” he added.
That “simple cut” was enough for three types of bacteria to infect Mitchell, one of which was the flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus — which doctors said can be found in salt and fresh waters.
“It isn’t something that just in Virginia Beach. It’s not something that’s just out in Florida or the Chesapeake Bay, but actually it’s local,” Mitchell said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Vibro Vulnificus “naturally live in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer.”
Mitchell’s encounter with flesh-eating bacteria is just one of many that have occurred this year, as an ongoing issue that occurs in the summer season — because the parasite thrives in warmer waters.
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CBS reports that as of time of publication, there is no official confirmation if a flesh-eating parasite has been found in the Potomac River at Colonial Beach, where Mitchell believes he was infected.
“I do believe that Colonial Beach is a great beach to come to,” Mitchell said despite his experience. “We’ve come here before. I like the environment, it’s family-friendly oriented.”
While cases of the tissue-destroying infection increase in the summer, the disease is very rare. Chances of contracting it are slim, especially if you’re healthy and have a strong immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.