Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in NJ, may lose limbs

Angel Perez, 60, went crabbing in Maurice River on July 2, according to KYW.

"It was swelling", she said. About one in seven people with the infection dies, according to the CDC, and limb amputations are common. The Millville resident's troubles began with severe pain and swelling in his right leg, and quickly grew to include swelling and blisters all over his body, as well as red, raw skin.

Representatives from the Cumberland County Department of Health could not immediately be reached by TIME for comment, but told that this type of bacteria is known to exist in waters in New Jersey, especially in summertime.

As his condition worsened, doctors diagnosed him with Vibrio necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection, and placed him in critical condition. It's in a group commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

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But the New Jersey health department says if anyone has open cuts or scrapes, it's best to stay out of brackish water, according to WPVI. Perez can still breath on his own and communicate with his family.

His daughter, Dilena Perez-Dilan, told NJ Advance Media that doctors have put her father on antibiotics and are waiting to see if responds. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that these bacteria cause about 205 infections per year nationwide. Anyone with liver disease or a weakened immune system should also avoid eating raw shellfish because the bacteria can also be spread through food.

"It was swelling so much, it looked like a prosthetic", Perez-Dilan said. "And then another friend of (Perez) that goes fishing there, he now has a baseball-size swelling of his elbow, and that's where he's been going".

State and county officials have acknowledged that Vibrio bacteria "is not uncommon for the waters" but can not do much aside from advising people to stay out of brackish water, according to NJ Advance Media. "That's why they do use boots - people use boots and covers to protect themselves". They do say that Mr. Perez is in good spirits. We think water is safe.

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