Flesh-eating Bacteria Gradually Eats Away at New Jersey Resident After He Goes Crabbing
NEW JERSEY — July 11, 2018
A day after Angel Perez, 60 was crabbing in the waters off Matts Landing, in the Maurice River, he began to feel severe pain and swelling in his lower right leg.
He was covered with red spots and scarring, with blisters all over his body.
Doctors say he's got an uphill battle ahead of him to keep his limbs after contracting a rare bacterial infection that is eating away at his flesh.
"While contracting the disease is rare, the bacteria in the water that causes it can enter through even the tiniest scratch on the body." said a doctor.
"He is in critical condition," said his daughter, Dilena Perez-Dilan. "The infection has spread to his blood ... his skin; you can see it spreading from his feet all the way above his kneecap. His forearms are black in color; they have blisters, cuts, and sores."
Vibrio necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria which Perez contracted, usually dwells in salty or brackish water, particularly during the summer months.
His immune system might be the only thing that can save him now. He'll stay in the intensive care unit at Cooper University Hospital until the doctorssee how he responds to antibiotics. If the medications don't work, then they'll have to amputate "at least three -- or potentially all -- of his limbs."
"He's not breathing perfectly, but he's able to breathe on his own and we're able to communicate with him now," Perez-Dilan said.
She said that though the doctors are waiting to see how her father responds to other treatments, time is also working against them.
"They are afraid if they don't treat it or amputate it, it's going to create more (infection)," she said. "Now he has been able to move his right arm slightly, but nothing more."
In addition, one of the family members got skin rashes and swelling after going in the water recently.
"I have another family member that goes to that spot; she now has a rash on her leg, and her leg (had) painful swelling," Perez-Dilan said. "She got antibiotics right away ... And then another friend of his (Perez) that goes fishing there, he now has a baseball-size swelling of his elbow, and that's where he's been going."
Cumberland County and State Health officials say that they're concerned about Perez's health, but they are not aware of any unusual danger from the water, except for the typical bacteria that live in the water around this time of the year.
Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said, unfortunately, this type of bacteria is not uncommon for those waters.
Noah Hetzell, assistant health officer at the Cumberland County Health Department supported her colleague's assertion.
"We can't really do anything other than advise people to stay out of the water in those areas," she said.
Officials said the county does not have any authority to close that beach.
Earlier, Florida officials announced that dangerous algae blooms are threatening the health of the state's residents.