News Feature | November 7, 2017

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Strikes Post-Harvey

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

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While many would have thought the death toll stemming from Hurricane Harvey had concluded, storm aftermath claimed another victim late last month through the presence of flesh-eating bacteria.

“Hurricane Harvey has claimed another victim, about two months after making landfall in Texas,” reported CNN. “A 31-year-old man died last week after being diagnosed with a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection known as necrotizing fasciitis.”

The man, Josue Zurita, was a carpenter who was working on several homes that had been damaged by the flooding.

“It’s most likely this person’s infection occurred where bacteria from Harvey debris or floodwater entered his body through a wound or cut,” Dr. Philip Kesier said in a news release obtained by the Houston Chronicle. “This is a very rare infection that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking for [his] family and friends.”

In September, it was reported that Nancy Reed had succumb to necrotizing fasciitis stemming from Harvey Floodwaters. A first responder also contracted a flesh-eating bacterial infection but survived, according to ABC13, after he had been kayaking through floodwaters to check on residents.

“We’re surprised we saw three of them in the region, but given the exposure to all the construction and potential injuries that people would have ... it shouldn’t be surprising,” Kesier said, per CNN. “It’s well within what we would expect given those numbers.”

While the disease is very rare, there are several types of bacteria that can cause it.

“Such an infection can spread quickly and kill the body’s soft tissue, especially if it infects a wound that is not properly cared for,” CNN reported. “The infection also can become lethal within a short amount of time.”

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Hurricane Harvey," mattbdiehl, 2017, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/