Health & Fit: Flesh-eating bacteria: Florida man nearly dies after fishing trip - You thought you had a flu? And if it was a flesh-eating bacteria - PressFrom - US
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Health & Fit Flesh-eating bacteria: Florida man nearly dies after fishing trip

02:15  12 october  2019
02:15  12 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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PENSACOLA, Fla – Aug. 31 was a typical Saturday for new Pensacola resident Bernie Stewart: he launched his kayak in Big Lagoon with a buddy and spent the day fishing. It was a good day on the water; he caught lots of fish, loaded his kayak back onto his truck at sunset and went home.

Karianne Logan and her fiance, Bernie Stewart, pose for a photo before Stewart contracted flesh-eating bacteria while kayak fishing in Big Lagoon.© Courtesy of Karianne Logan Karianne Logan and her fiance, Bernie Stewart, pose for a photo before Stewart contracted flesh-eating bacteria while kayak fishing in Big Lagoon.

But about two hours after he got home, Stewart noticed his right leg hurt, and he looked down to see it had turned bright red.

"I was like, 'wow, I must have gotten a hell of a sunburn,' 'cause it was really red," Stewart said. "And then another 15 to 20 minutes went by and this boil came up out of nowhere, and then I couldn't walk anymore."

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"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

It wasn't a sunburn. Stewart had contracted Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially deadly infection better known by its more common name: flesh-eating bacteria.

By the next morning, he was in emergency surgery at Sacred Heart Hospital in an effort to keep the bacteria from spreading to other parts of his body. But by then, it was already too late. The bacteria had entered his blood stream, Stewart went into multiple organ failure and was placed under a medically-induced coma for two-and-a-half weeks.

His fiance, Karianne Logan, didn't know if he would ever wake up.

"It was heartbreaking," Logan said. "I was just hoping for a miracle."

Flesh-eating bacteria is extremely common in local waters

Vibrio vulnificus is a much more commonly occurring bacteria than people think, according to Dr. John Lanza, director and health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County.

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"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

Vibrio bacteria can be found in Gulf and brackish waters, Lanza said, and increases in concentration depending on the time of year and temperature.

"If you test anywhere, you'll find it," he said. "If you go out into the Gulf and take a gallon of water right now and test it, you'll find Vibrio."

Still, Vibrio infections are extremely rare. There have only been 22 confirmed cases of flesh-eating bacteria in the entire state of Florida in 2019, with three of those in Escambia County, according to the Department of Health. Only one of those cases, reported in a person in Hillsborough County, has resulted in death.

Flesh-eating bacteria most commonly affects people with already compromised immune systems, and can enter the body through cuts or lacerations. It can also be ingested when a person eats raw oysters or swallows water while swimming.

One-in-three who contract it die: She died of flesh-eating bacteria after a beach trip. Now her family wants to warn others

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"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

"Vibrio is very rare. I mean, think about it. How many times have you been in the ocean and not gotten it?" Lanza said. "Multiply that times 300 million people."

Spreading the message to others

Stewart, unfortunately, was one of the rare cases.

Bernie Stewart, 59, stands for the first time with assistance after contracting flesh-eating bacteria while kayak fishing in Big Lagoon on Aug. 31. Stewart has to learn how to walk again, but doctors were able to save his leg.© Courtesy of Karianne Logan Bernie Stewart, 59, stands for the first time with assistance after contracting flesh-eating bacteria while kayak fishing in Big Lagoon on Aug. 31. Stewart has to learn how to walk again, but doctors were able to save his leg. The 59-year-old Pennsylvania native, who moved to Pensacola this past July to grow his kayak anchor company, said he had a healthy immune system and no cuts or lacerations when he contracted the disease. But it spread quickly, and almost cost him his leg — and his life. Thankfully, doctors were able to save both.

"I have to learn how to walk again," he said Thursday from his hospital bed. "I can't walk right now. I have no muscle, no strength in my legs whatsoever. But at least I have both legs."

Stewart is still in the hospital, and is set to undergo his tenth surgery next week. Doctors will extend skin graphs they've already put on his thigh and calf over his foot. After that, it could take up to two months to heal completely, and then Stewart can think about learning to walk again.

Florida Man Hospitalized by 'Flesh-eating' Bacteria: 'If I Didn't Get Treatment, I'd Probably Be Dead'

Florida Man Hospitalized by 'Flesh-eating' Bacteria: 'If I Didn't Get Treatment, I'd Probably Be Dead' George Billiris says he's thankful his 10-year-old grandson didn't catch the potentially deadly infection.

“ Flesh Eating Bacteria sounds like an urban legend. Let me assure you that it is not. RELATED VIDEO: California Dad of 2 Dies From Flesh - Eating Bacteria After Fishing with His Son. RELATED: Florida Man Contracts Flesh - Eating Bacteria — Without Touching Water Where It’s

"The bacteria got in through those pinhole type injections." He spent nearly two weeks at Citrus Memorial, undergoing six days of surgeries to remove the flesh - eating bacteria . Mike O’Grady said he doesn’t have any autoimmune issues common with people who contract the bacteria , something

"They were 'gonna take my leg off, but I pulled through it, and I do believe that God has other plans for me," he said. "I was never really a religious person, but I think this was an eye opener to get the point across, which he did. There's no doubt in my mind."

Bernie Stewart gives the © Courtesy of Karianne Logan Bernie Stewart gives the "thumbs up" sign after coming out of a medically-induced coma caused by a flesh-eating bacteria infection.

The good thing about Vibrio compared to other infections, Lanza said, is that once it's gone, it's gone. Unlike other infections like Hepatitis or HIV, people can completely heal and get rid of flesh-eating bacteria.

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Flesh-eating bacteria: Florida man nearly dies after fishing trip

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