TAMPA, Fla — when the world has to be consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, other dangerous infections have actually quietly continued to take their own tolls.

You are watching: Cases of flesh eating bacteria in florida


We understand there space sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, all sorts the predators that we look the end for while in the water. However there"s something else lurking below that is even 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 great guy. He"s just genuinely fun to be roughly and constantly made you feel good, always," stated Cheryl Wiygul, fighting earlier tears as she explained her father, David Bennett.




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It"s to be a year since David passed far in a Tennessee hospital ~ a family trip come Florida because that the 4th of July.


"We all visited a Rocky Bayou State Park through our jet skis and packed a picnic lunch. Jet ski and swam the end there for like three or 4 hours," Cheryl explained to 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus.


He had lymphoma for this reason the family members thought the pain might be connected to complications from that. Instead of acquiring checked out in a Florida hospital, he and also his mam drove earlier to their hometown in Tennessee.


"They finished up going directly to the hospital since he feeling worse and worse and also worse," Cheryl explained.


"They took off his shirt to put his gown on. He had a huge an are about this big. Mine mom explains it as prefer a shelf the flesh that was transforming black. She sent me the photo and I stated that"s flesh eating bacteria. Tell lock he"s remained in the water," Cheryl said.


"It wasn"t till after that, his doctor adhered to up with the records and said that he had Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. That"s caused him to go septic," defined Cheryl.


Vibrio vulnificus is a bacteria that stays in heat brackish sea water, favor the Gulf the Mexico. You deserve to contract the bacteria among two ways: through a cut or by eat raw shellfish. Some prefer to contact it "flesh eat bacteria" because some situations turn into necrotizing fasciitis, which looks favor the meat is being consumed away.


According come data indigenous the Florida department of health there have actually been 420 situations of vibrio vulnificus in Florida because 2008.


The year 2019 accounted for 27 of those cases. Yet when it involves Cheryl"s dad, he"s not component of this statistics. It"s since of just how the department monitor the cases. Because David passed away in a Tennessee hospital, his case was sent over to the Tennessee department of Health, no Florida"s.


After discovering her dad"s situation was no being tracked in Florida, she sent out a letter to the Tennessee room of health and wellness asking why.


In an email from the Tennessee room of Health, an main told Cheryl "For infections, those occasions are always registered in the state of residence for someone who has actually a reportable condition, regardless of whereby the exposures happen."


"I feel prefer there"s not an accurate picture out there and also it makes world feel also comfortable v it. And also it"s not to fear people. It"s just to keep human being that are at risk from dying and also There"s nothing wrong through that," stated Cheryl.


"You know, everybody love her," stated Wade Fleming as he explained his mother, Cheryl Fleming, come 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus.


"The doctor referred to as me and was really polite, but he was very concerning around her health. He"s like, this is serious," walking said. "He states she has actually necrotizing fasciitis."


"My mom, typical, put down her chair and said I"ll see you in 15 to 20. She"d take a to walk in the beach," defined Wade.


During the walk, she reduced her shin ~ above a gully ~ above the beach where the water had washed out several of the sand on shore.


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


"You know, if I had actually known that, friend know, it to be something for this reason severe, we would have actually stayed. Yet again, there were no signs, no, no warnings, no signs," described Wade the his mom"s condition.


"It is an ext prevalent in the united States," Dr. Ali said. "It has actually increased significantly since 2010 till the current time. Since our water is getting warmer."


"Do friend think there"s sufficient research, sufficient studies happening for this reason we deserve to really acquire a great grip on how prevalent this is in our s waters below in Florida?" 10 Investigates" Jennifer Titus inquiry Dr. Ali ~ above a video clip call.


"No, my sense is that since there are only 100 cases of the vibros in the entire United states with 20 to 30 deaths every year, it gets less attention indigenous the state as well as the commonwealth government but if girlfriend look at the deaths, the 25 percent come 30 percent of the human being die, it"s a far-reaching portion the the world that room dying native the disease," described Dr. Ali.


Dr. Ali says world with underlying problems need come be very concerned and also made aware of this fatal bacteria.


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


"Absolutely," Dr. Ali answered. "So the is, as I said, i mean, that is a rarely case, this deadly flesh, eat bacteria, because that underlying people, yet it is no a small thing due to the fact that a life is a life."


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


Both family members are advertise for adjust when it concerns educating people about vibrio vulnificus. They"d like to see indicators up top top beaches warning civilization with underlying conditions about the potential for deadly bacteria. Cheryl has also started a petition pushing because that these signs.


As us mentioned, this is a danger numerous of us don"t think of once heading come the beach. So, how usual is vibrio vulnificus?


Six of those instances were in the Tampa only area. 2 of those instances ended in death: one in Hernando County and the other in Pasco County.


As 10 Investigates uncovered, if who from an additional state is visiting Florida and gets infected, that instance counts in their residence state. You have the right to see the year-by-year data for yourself by click here.


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