BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A local fisherman is recovering after "flesh-eating" bacteria sent him to the emergency room.
Daniel Richards loves to fish and boat in the Indian River Lagoon. He knows how prevalent bacteria is in warm water but didn’t realize how fast infections could spread in even the smallest of cuts.
"It can kill you rather quickly within a few days," said Daniel Richards who’s grown up around the Indian River Lagoon.
Over a week after he was infected, he’s realizing he could have died after boating with friends.
"I just dipped my hand in the water one time. It was just in an unfortunate location, and I guess my immune system wasn’t quite healthy at the time due to a previous accident, and it got me," he added.
The "flesh-eating" bacteria got into a centimeter size cut on his hand and quickly spread.
"Once I started not being able to close my hand, and the swelling started becoming pretty intense, I realized I could not handle it myself and went straight to the ER," Richards said.
He’s been on strong antibiotics for over a week, and doctors say, he’s lucky he didn’t lose limbs.
"Invasive necrotizing infections spread very quickly and spread widely, so it’s not uncommon for these to result in very large tissue destruction, leading to potential amputation and even death," said Dr. Tim Laird who’s the Associate Chief Medical Officer with Health First Medical Group.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 1 in 5 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection. If you see swelling or redness near an open soar and have a fever, go to the ER immediately.
Richards is thankful he treated the infection fast enough because he didn’t want "to lose limbs." He says, "Everybody likes their limbs for sure."
It's been over a week, and his skin is starting to grow back near the area where it started to disintegrate. He still loves the lagoon but says he’ll be even more cautious with the tiniest of cuts near water.
"It’s a very scary infection," Richards concluded.
Dr. Laird says the bacteria can also spread through uncooked seafood. He recommends cooking seafood before eating it to lower your risk of infection.