Man on vacation contracts flesh-eating bacteria in Tampa Bay

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For an Ohio man, a Tampa Bay vacation turned into a fight for his life.

He contracted flesh-eating bacteria while enjoying the waters of Tampa Bay. 

Last month, Barry Briggs flew down from Ohio to enjoy the Tampa Bay area. On the last leg of his trip, he joined his family on a boating and kayaking excursion off of Weedon Island in Tampa Bay.

When he returned to Ohio, he noticed some swelling on his foot and within hours, it got progressively worse.

“Thirty-two hours later, I went from swollen ankle to emergency surgery,” he said. 

Doctors diagnosed him with necrotizing fasciitis or flesh-eating bacteria.

It was destroying the tissue in his foot and leg at a rate of an inch an hour.

“We couldn’t find anything and the doctors couldn’t find anything, so we’re not sure point of entry or how it got affected,” said Briggs.

The CDC says necrotizing fasciitis is extremely rare, roughly 700 to 1,200 US cases are reported each year.

Cuts or scrapes can allow the bacteria to enter the body, but those with a weak immune system, such as from diabetes or cancer, could also be at risk.

Briggs is thankful his family wasn’t affected.

“It didn’t attack the kids, it didn’t attack my brother-in-law or his girlfriend,” said Briggs.

“Out of the seven of us, I was the right one. That’s the positive in a negative situation.”

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