A mother is urging the public to take precautions this summer after her son contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while swimming in Maryland’s Sinepuxent Bay near Ocean City. Her warning comes days after two cases in Florida of a more severe type, necrotizing fasciitis, led to the death of a 77-year-old woman and required emergency surgery for a 12-year-old girl.
The Maryland mother, Brittany Carey, detailed the incident in a Facebook post on Saturday, writing that her son returned from a trip to the bay with his grandparents with “little spots developing all over his body.” The next morning the spots had developed into growing, open wounds.
“I had thought he was scratching them, making them worse. Only to find when I picked him up Tuesday they were a lot bigger and a lot more,” she explained, and added that doctors initially told the family “it was really nothing” and prescribed the boy an antibiotic that she claims “only made it worse.”
Carey said she brought her son to the hospital on Thursday, and found out “my little one now had VIBRIO a bacteria found in the bay and also in raw seafood.”
Vibrio is a bacterial infection that people can contract after consuming raw or undercooked seafood — particularly oysters — or exposing a wound to salt water or brackish water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vibriosis is not typically deadly, and causes just about 100 deaths in the U.S. each year, with most infections occurring between the warm months of May and October.
Vibrio can lead to diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, fever, nausea and chills, which usually lasts about three days, according to the CDC. It can also cause skin infections when the open wound is exposed to the bacteria. The best treatment is drinking fluids until it passes.
In an update to her post, Carey shared photos of her son’s red, peeling scars and said her son is recovering well.
“Please be careful out there guys and if you start seeing wounds such as these please get somewhere fast!” she concluded the post.
Carey’s post has been shared at least 19,000 times. And although her son is expected to be okay, others have not been so lucky after contracting the illness.
This is the third case of flesh-eating bacteria to gain national attention ahead of the July 4th holiday. On Monday, the family of Lynn Fleming, 77, spoke out after her June 27 death, which occurred 13 days after she scraped her leg while walking on a Florida beach and contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a more severe type of flesh-eating bacteria.
And at the end of June, the mother of a 12-year-old girl said that her daughter also developed necrotizing fasciitis from a Florida beach after swimming with a cut on her toe. After emergency surgery, she is healing at home.
Experts have said climate change is partially to blame for the increase of vibrio cases, as the bacteria is thriving as waters warm, a recent study found. According to researchers, the bacteria has spread up from southern waters to the Delaware Bay, which is just north of Ocean City.