“It’s scary. It makes you really think. I haven’t been back in the water,” Patty Born, of Milton, told Channel 3 News.
Born said she and her husband were heading back from Port St. Joe when her leg started “getting real hot” and “felt weird.” She told the news outlet that her symptoms quickly progressed to nausea and she felt hot.
Within hours of first developing symptoms, Born was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria infection dominating the headlines as the summer temperatures continue to rise and more patients turn to social media to share their story.
Several patients, including a Texas father who headed to the beach for Fourth of July celebrations with his family, have died after being diagnosed with the fast-moving infection.
Born told Channel 3 News that doctors didn’t expect her to survive the infection either.
“They told my husband to call my family,” she said. “They didn’t expect for me to make it, from what I’m told.”
But Born did survive and is sharing her story to warn others about the seriousness of the infection.
“I mean to look at your leg. It looked like it was rotting off," she said.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection that spreads quickly throughout the body and is caused by a variety of different bacteria. It can cause death without prompt treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Accurate diagnosis, antibiotic treatment and prompt surgery are vital in stopping the spread. The infection can occur after exposure to Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria present in warm seawater or raw or undercooked seafood.
Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the U.S., but patients with underlying health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, scarring of the liver or cancer are more at risk of developing severe complications such as necrotizing fasciitis.
It most commonly enters the body through a break in the skin like cuts or scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds or surgical wounds.
The CDC advises against eating raw or undercooked oysters or shellfish to lower the risk of contracting vibriosis, and to wash your hands after handling raw shellfish. It also advises staying out of salt water or brackish water if you have a wound, or covering the wound.