TAMPA, Fla — while the human being has to be consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, various other dangerous infections have quietly continued to take it their own tolls.

You are watching: Flesh eating bacteria in florida waters


We understand there room sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, all sorts that predators that us look the end for when in the water. But there"s something else lurking below that is also deadlier 보다 all 3 combined.


For almost a year now, 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus has actually been researching this fatal "Bacteria Below."


"He to be a good guy. He"s simply genuinely fun to be approximately and constantly made you feeling good, always," said Cheryl Wiygul, fighting back tears together she explained her father, David Bennett.




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It"s to be a year because David passed away in a Tennessee hospital after ~ a family members trip to Florida because that the fourth of July.


"We all visited a Rocky Bayou State Park through our jet skis and also packed a picnic lunch. Jet ski and swam out there for prefer three or four hours," Cheryl defined to 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus.


He had lymphoma for this reason the family members thought the pain could be attached to complications from that. Rather of acquiring checked the end in a Florida hospital, he and his mam drove ago to their hometown in Tennessee.


"They ended up going directly to the hospital due to the fact that he felt worse and worse and also worse," Cheryl explained.


"They took off his shirt to placed his gown on. He had actually a huge room about this big. My mom explains it as like a shelf the flesh the was transforming black. She sent me the snapshot and I claimed that"s flesh eating bacteria. Tell lock he"s been in the water," Cheryl said.


"It wasn"t till after that, his doctor complied with up with the records and said that he had Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. That"s led to him to walk septic," described Cheryl.


Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that resides in warmth brackish sea water, like the Gulf of Mexico. You deserve to contract the bacteria among two ways: v a cut or by eating raw shellfish. Some favor to contact it "flesh eat bacteria" because some situations turn right into necrotizing fasciitis, i m sorry looks like the flesh is being eaten away.


According come data indigenous the Florida department of wellness there have been 420 situations of vibrio vulnificus in Florida due to the fact that 2008.


The year 2019 accounted because that 27 the those cases. Yet when it comes to Cheryl"s dad, he"s not component of this statistics. It"s since of how the department tracks the cases. Because David died in a Tennessee hospital, his situation was sent out over come the Tennessee room of Health, no Florida"s.


After learning her dad"s instance was not being tracked in Florida, she sent a letter to the Tennessee department of health asking why.


In an e-mail from the Tennessee department of Health, an official told Cheryl "For infections, those occasions are constantly registered in the state the residence because that someone who has a reportable condition, nevertheless of wherein the exposures happen."


"I feel prefer there"s not precise picture out there and it makes people feel as well comfortable with it. And it"s no to scare people. It"s just to keep human being that are at hazard from dying and also There"s nothing wrong with that," stated Cheryl.


"You know, everybody loved her," stated Wade Fleming together he described his mother, Cheryl Fleming, to 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus.


"The doctor called me and was really polite, yet he was an extremely concerning about her health. He"s like, this is serious," walking said. "He says she has actually necrotizing fasciitis."


"My mom, typical, placed down she chair and also said I"ll view you in 15 come 20. She"d take it a walk in the beach," described Wade.


During that walk, she cut her shin top top a gully on the beach whereby the water had washed out several of the sand ~ above shore.


"Just then, the lifeguard came by and also his small ATV or whatever, and we whistled at him, he come over and also rendered first aid. Girlfriend know, put some antibiotic cream ~ above it, bandaged it up, wrapped that up, cleaned the up, you know, and just said, you acquired to be mindful and, friend know, have actually a quite day," walking explained.


"You know, if I had actually known that, you know, it to be something therefore severe, us would have actually stayed. Yet again, there to be no signs, no, no warnings, no signs," described Wade the his mom"s condition.


"It is much more prevalent in the united States," Dr. Ali said. "It has actually increased significantly due to the fact that 2010 till the current time. Because our water is acquiring warmer."


"Do you think there"s enough research, sufficient studies happening for this reason we have the right to really gain a an excellent grip on exactly how prevalent this is in our ocean waters below in Florida?" 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus request Dr. Ali on a video clip call.


"No, my sense is that since there are just 100 situations of the vibros in the whole United says with 20 come 30 deaths every year, that gets less attention from the state as well as the federal government yet if girlfriend look in ~ the deaths, the 25 percent come 30 percent the the people die, it"s a significant portion the the human being that space dying from the disease," explained Dr. Ali.


Dr. Ali says world with underlying problems need to be very concerned and made mindful of this deadly bacteria.


"It is absolutely going to it is in a public wellness threat. The reason is, particularly in Florida, that we rely on the tourism and also our population, practically 20 percent to 25 percent population is 65 and also over," said Dr. Ali.


"Absolutely," Dr. Ali answered. "So the is, as I said, i mean, the is a rare case, this deadly flesh, eat bacteria, because that underlying people, yet it is not a little thing because a life is a life."


"I just I want everybody come know and understand it. Since I don"t want anybody come go v this, ns want any kind of I don"t want anybody rather to lose their loved one after having actually fun on vacation just due to the fact that they didn"t know," said Cheryl.


Both family members are pushing for adjust when it comes to educating people about vibrio vulnificus. They"d like to see indications up ~ above beaches warning civilization with basic conditions around the potential because that deadly bacteria. Cheryl has even started a petition pushing because that these signs.


As we mentioned, this is a danger countless of united state don"t think of once heading to the beach. So, how common is vibrio vulnificus?


Six that those situations were in the Tampa just area. Two of those situations ended in death: one in Hernando County and also the various other in Pasco County.


As 10 Investigates uncovered, if someone from one more state is visiting Florida and gets infected, that instance counts in their home state. You can see the year-by-year data for you yourself by click here.


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