TAMPA, Fla. — Recent cases of flesh-eating bacteria have left families with traumatizing experiences. In just this year alone, several families have come forward after their loved ones contracted a flesh-eating bacteria.
Over the weekend, a 77-year-old Florida woman died just a week and a half after she scraped her leg in the water while visiting Coquina Beach in Florida.
A day after her cut, Lynn Fleming became ill and eventually went to a hospital. She was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, the infection commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.
"You kind of heard once or twice, flesh eating disease, that kind of grabs you, but you would never think that happens to you," her son, Wade Fleming, said Monday.
Back in April, a man from Ohio got sick and developed a massive swelling on his left foot after going on a boating trip near Weedon Island.
"Initially, I thought maybe it was a sunburn," he said.
Barry Briggs, from Waynesville, Ohio, was later diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, just like Fleming. Briggs said his surgeon believes it was vibrio vulnificus.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, necrotizing fasciitis is rare, but people with compromised immune systems have a harder time fighting the infection. The CDC says one in three people who contract the flesh-eating bacteria will die.
Here's information you need to know about vibrio vulnificus, so you and your family will know how you can stay safe.
WHAT IS IT?
Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that can come from numerous bacteria, one of them vibrio vulnificus.
Professors at University of South Florida says vibrio vulnificus thrives in warm water, but it's best to assume it is always in the water as it is natural occurring.
One infection that can come from vibrio vulnificus is necrotizing fasciitis.
Vibrio can be in any body of water. However, it likes less salt so it's more common in Tampa Bay than in the Gulf of Mexico.
It is most common in March through December.
HOW MANY CASES?
The CDC estimates that vibrio vulnificus causes about 205 infections in the United States every year.
WHO CAN GET IT?
There are a number of factors to come in to play to get vibrio, but some of those include immunocompromised individuals who possibly have chronic liver disease, kidney disease or weakened immune systems.
HOW CAN I GET IT?
Those with the weakened immune systems who have open cuts, or wounds have chances of getting vibrio, but the chances are rare. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning.