A man contracted flesh-eating bacteria while doing cancer on a Louisiana beach and is in the intensive care unit at a local hospital, according to his family and media reports.
The man, Jesse Abshire, contracted the bacteria in the ankle-deep water in Cameron Parish, according to the KPLC.
Cameron Parish is located about 235 miles west of New Orleans.
Abshire’s daughter, Amanda Savoy, posted on Facebook on June 16 that her father needed to pray. On June 23, she posted that he was going to have surgery and the next day wrote that doctors had yet to remove his tube.
“Just pray that he can get off the anesthesia and take the tube out so he doesn’t have to get a tracheostomy and wedge tube,” she wrote, referring to the percutaneous endoscopic tracheostomy and gastric tubes, which help patients eat and breathe. “God is able and he is holding us through this.”
Savoy did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Stacey Rose, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, told McClatchy News. Rose said she could not comment on the Abshire case specifically, and could only speak generally about these types of infections.
The meat-eating bacteria do not actually eat meat, she said, but rather cause soft tissue death.
According to WebMd, the scientific name for most flesh-eating bacteria is necrotizing fasciitis.
Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that occurs naturally in warm, brackish water and is often referred to as a “flesh-eating bacteria” according to the Florida Department of Health.
While these types of bacteria can be present in water, Rose said, whether a person has an infection and the severity of the infection is determined by a person’s overall health and whether they have underlying conditions. She said that people with open wounds are more likely to develop infections, and those with underlying diseases, such as liver disease, have a higher risk.
“For the most part, enjoying water sports is reasonably safe, but there are always living creatures around us,” she said.
The key, she said, is to seek treatment early if you suspect you may have an infection.
“If you notice pain, redness, or sores, go to the doctor and don’t be late,” she said.