Memphis man dies after contracting flesh-eating bacteria in Florida, family says

A recent trip to Destin, Fla., turned deadly for one Memphis man, his family says. (Source: WMC/Gray News)
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/Gray News) - A Memphis family is in mourning after their beloved husband and father was killed by a flesh-eating bacteria that he contracted in the Gulf Coast.

For the second time in a month, visitors have returned home from trips to Destin, Florida, waters with confirmed cases by local doctors of flesh-eating bacteria.

In a post written by the man’s daughter Wednesday, she described a weekend filled with family fun, enjoying the best of the Emerald Coast, from jet skiing to swimming in Destin’s beautiful water.

But it quickly turned deadly for the Memphis man who was battling cancer.

His daughter wrote, “Flesh Eating Bacteria sounds like an urban legend. Let me assure you that it is not. It took my Dad’s life.”

She says 12 hours after being in the water last, her father woke up with a fever and chills. Just 48 hours later his family learned vibrio vulnificus took his life.

"My Dad didn't have any open wounds. He had a couple places that were practicality healed small scratches on his arms and legs that I made sure were super sealed up."

The post said by Monday he was admitted to the hospital. A black spot appeared on his back, a sign of the deadly infection.

Experts say the bacteria naturally lives in certain coastal waters.

“There should be no panic. These are sporadic cases that happen all the time And some of them really go bad. Patients lose limbs, lot of tissue, and that gets media attention,” said Dr. Muhammad Khurshid, an Infectious disease specialist at St. Francis Hospital.

Though infections like this one are rare, Khurshid says it could be detrimental for people who are already sick.

“Especially if you are immuno-compromised and have an open wound, I would probably avoid those situations where you are exposed to that water,” said Khurshid.

His family said there were no warnings on the beaches of the bacteria that was lurking in Destin’s blue waters.

In a statement, the Florida Department of Health told us they are now investigating these cases. They advise not enter the water if you have fresh cuts or scrapes.

Learn more about the disease from the Florida Department of Health.
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