Lake Charles, La. — A Louisiana man is recovering in the hospital after getting infected with a flesh-eating bacteria.
Experts say the bacteria is showing up earlier this year than usual and are warning beach-goers to be cautious.
“This infection is something that will go from a fun day at the beach to an extremely painful wound within hours,” said Dr. Stephen Castleberry, a surgeon at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital. “Overnight can be sepsis and septic shock and aggressive therapy to try to do what you can to save life and tissue.”
That’s exactly what happened to Jessie Abshire, who is now recovering in the ICU after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in Cameron Parish.
“Not long in the water either,” said Belinda Abshire, his wife. “Just a couple hours we were there at the most.”
Belinda and their daughter, Amanda Savoie, are sharing Jessie’s story in hopes it saves even one person from suffering like he has. They called it a near-death experience and said it can happen to anybody.
“He’s getting better slowly each day,” Savoie said. “We got a long road ahead of us.”
“Who would have thought we had gone crabbing in ankle-deep water, then two days later, you’re almost dying in the hospital,” Belinda said.
This type of flesh eating bacteria — vibrio vulnificus — can affect the intestinal tract. Doctors expect Jessie to recover from the infection, but not everyone is so lucky.
Castleberry said this time of year doctors are most worried about skin infections.
“What we worry about is anyone that’s immunocompromised, so even just diabetes, mild liver disease when patients don’t know about it, and any break in the skin, even a several day old tattoo, a small cut that you don’t even recognize beforehand,” he said.
Castleberry said the bacteria is showing up about four to six weeks earlier than what he’s seen in past summers and is advising people to take extra caution if they’re headed to the beach this summer.
“Anytime you’re in brackish water, Gulf water, during these times of the month, it doesn’t hurt to wash off after you leave the beach,” Castleberry said. “If you have any kind of fresh wounds, don’t go in the water.”
He recommends washing any abrasion with soap and water immediately if you get a scrape from the rocks or a wound from a fishing hook or net.
If a wound is getting painful, always seek medical care immediately.
“When in doubt, go see somebody quick,” Castleberry said.
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