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Flesh-eating bacteria seen in water 4-6 weeks earlier than previous summers


Cameron Parish, LA (KPLC) – It’s not the first thing you think of when you head to the beach or go fishing, but doctors say it’s something you should be aware of . Flesh-eating bacteria show up earlier than in previous summers.

“This infection is something that will go from a fun day at the beach to an extremely painful injury within hours. The night can be sepsis, septic shock and aggressive therapy to try to do what you can to save lives and tissue,” said Dr Stephen Castleberry of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital.

That’s exactly what happened to Jessie Abshire, who is now recovering in intensive care after contracting flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in Cameron Parish.

“Just not long in the water either. We were only there a few hours tops,” Jessie’s wife, Belinda Abshire, said.

Now Jessie’s wife and daughter are sharing his story in hopes it will save even someone from suffering like him, calling it a near death experience and saying it can happen to anyone.

“Getting better slowly every day. We have a long road ahead of us,” Jessie’s daughter Amanda Savoie said.

“Who would have thought we went crabbing in ankle deep water and then two days later he is dying in hospital,” Belinda said.

This type of flesh-eating bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, can affect the intestinal tract, but Dr Castleberry says that at this time of year they worry most about skin infections.

“What we’re concerned about is anyone who’s immunocompromised, so even diabetes, mild liver disease when patients don’t know about it, and any tearing of the skin, even a tattoo that’s several days old, a little cut that you might not even recognize in advance,” said Dr. Castleberry.

Dr Castleberry says this bacteria is showing up about four to six weeks earlier than what he has seen in previous summers, and he advises people to be extra careful if heading to the beach this summer.

“Anytime you’re in brackish water, gulf water, during those times of the month, it doesn’t hurt to wash up after you leave the beach. If you have any type of fresh injury, don’t go in the water,” Dr Castleberry said.

He recommends washing off any abrasions with soap and water immediately afterwards – if you get scraped by the rocks or injure yourself with a hook or fishing net. Of course, if the wound becomes painful, consult a doctor immediately.

“When in doubt, get to someone fast,” Dr. Castleberry said.

Jessie’s family say they are grateful for what doctors call a miraculous recovery after fearing he might not make it. They say the outpouring of thoughts and prayers from the community has been a huge help in getting through this difficult time.

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