Flesh-eating bacteria found in Chesapeake Bay nearly kills Md. m - FOX 35 News Orlando

Flesh-eating bacteria found in Chesapeake Bay nearly kills Md. man

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WASHINGTON -

A Maryland man nearly lost his leg and his life due to a flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus, which is typically found in brackish waters like the Chesapeake Bay.

“We were just canoeing, kayaking, fishing, crabbing, things you do when you’re on vacation,” Rodney Donald told FOX 5.

Donald couldn't have imagined that vacation to the Chesapeake Bay would nearly cost him his leg and life.

That same morning, he also fell and scraped his leg. It turns out that tiny scrape made him more susceptible to vibrio vulnificus, an aggressive bacteria that causes a fast-spreading infection.

“It likes salty water, not so much ocean water, more brackish water, but you can find it in the ocean as well,” said Dr. Gary Simon, an infectious diseases expert with George Washington Medical Faculty Associates. “It’s known to occur in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Donald woke up in extreme pain that night.

“My leg was burning and then it felt like I had to vomit, but I never did,” he said. “It was like the dry heaves. And then I got chills real bad. I couldn’t stop shaking.”

He was rushed to a local hospital in Calvert County.

“My wife pulled the sheet up again and it had spread, it had grown, it wasn’t flat anymore,” said Donald. “It had risen to be about a quarter inch and it was starting to go around my leg.”

Then he was airlifted to D.C. where specialists could treat the aggressive infection.

“Once I got to Washington Hospital Center, they put me into emergency surgery right away and started cutting where the bacteria had actually started eating the flesh,” said Donald.

Dr. Simon says it is lucky he got treatment right away.

“Occasionally it's missed for a while or it’s let go or people don’t come in and one can lose a limb from it because it's a necrotizing infection, which means it kills tissue,” said Dr. Simon.

Donald was in the hospital for 13 days. He had three surgeries just to cut out the infection and then had skin grafts. It could be months before he fully recovers, but says he is just thankful he is alive.

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