Bug: Vibrio Vulnificus, Flesh-eating bacteria,
Action: Cellulites, Necrotizing Fasciitis, Septicemia and possible Death!
Vibrio can only be found in stagnant waters or contracted from wading/swimming in stagnant water. THAT'S WHAT WE THOUGHT! (it is present in salt water....beaches...bays. It's a myth about stagnant water only and WE WERE NEVER OUT OF OF OUR BOAT!
INFORMATION: I'm no expert but this is the information I have been able to find from credible sources.
The bacteria flourishes in salt water and especially in the Gulf Coast waters between April and October.
Vibrio enters the body through a cut, insect bite, abrasion or even a bruise.
Immune suppressed people should take extra precautions OR Better yet STAY AWAY from the water. (Kidney, Liver, Hepatitis C, Cancer, Leukemia, the list is long)
Even drinking a small amount of alcohol lowers the immune system temporarily.
Vibrio can live in the exoskeleton of shrimp. Think bait buckets, live wells etc.
Most know to stay away from eating raw oysters (especially immune suppressed people)
CARE OF WOUNDS: When I hear WOUND I think of something major...this can be a small cut/scratch/abrasion/insect bite or bruise.
Use alcohol, peroxide or diluted bleach water to clean immediately if a cut or abrasion occurs. Apply a triple antibiotic cream. I spoke to a heart doctor that is an avid fisherman said he keeps diluted bleach water on his boat and rinses his hands constantly.
SEEK IMMEDIATE CARE IF:
A wound (scratch/cut/abrasion/insect bite) becomes red, swollen or painful
If fever, chills, lethargy or flu-like symptoms occur
My husband's first sign was slight tightness in his calf. Not pain just tightness.
The bacteria moves fast. He complained in the morning about tightness and was running a fever that evening and we nearly lost him that night.
Be sure to mention Vibrio as a possible diagnosis, as I've found that most Emergency Rooms, even those in coastal towns, do not have this high on their list of possible diagnosis. Some have never seen Vibrio cases.
My belief is that cases of Vibrio are under-reported. If medications are given prior to taking a culture a doctor may know what they are dealing with but can not prove it via a good culture and without absolute proof is not reportable to CDC. Harvey's case is not one of the statistics that are reported.
I have polled many immune suppressed people and ask if their doctor has warned them about the dangers of Vibrio & salt water. Everyone I have spoken to said they were never warned!
MY INTENT and MISSION:
Is not to frighten people away from going fishing or swimming at the coast but to warn people to take proper precautions. Healthy people are not at high risk but should still take proper precautions.
To speak to State agencies, Doctors (A.M.A) and the Media about getting warnings out to the general public and specifically those at the highest risk.
I have a large network of friends and via internet they are helping me by forwarding information and hopefully their friends will forward also. My hope is that since most jokes make it around the world a zillion times, I am in hopes that this information can be spread also.
I received emails or have heard stories from quite a few people that have experienced this flesh-eating bacteria. These are just a few in the short time that we've dealt with this.. If you Google search Vibrio Vulnificus or flesh eating bacteria and the Gulf Coast you'll find other examples.
THESE ARE JUST A FEW EXAMPLES: (if you know of someone dealing with this I would appreciate the information)
From a fishing guide at Port O'Connor that nearly lost his leg.
From a child that was only scratched from an oyster shell playing on the beach and when they cultured the wound it was Vibrio.
From a man wading at Biloxi, Miss. that nearly lost his foot.
One of my high school classmates had a brother in law that lost his life.
We heard of a 26 year old that died from this.
I had a phone call from a lady that lost her 81 year old husband (kidney disease) Oct. 2006 after fishing on a pier and getting Vibrio on his hand.
Steve Gilpatrick- swimming -Galveston (July 07) diabetic
Two men from Victoria (status unknown) contracted it at Port O'Connor (July 07)
I originally started this website in July 06
Below is how our story began. What you will read is as things were happening originally.
It seemed as if Harvey would make it through all of this but lost his life on Nov. 27 2006.
At first the ER doctors couldn't decide exactly which bacteria my husband had but soon there was a consensus that it was Vibrio. They were not able to get a good culture as he had been given antibiotics and other meds in the ER.
We thought this could only happen in still waters or from wading and NEVER TO US we had been fishing that area for over 20 years. We were on our boat and NEVER GOT IN THE WATER. We were fishing in a bay outside of Rockport, Texas and the water does move....So be Aware!
We had fished for two days. The second day he got a tiny cut on his leg and I commented "honey your leg is bleeding". He reached down and wiped it off with his hand and we kept fishing.
6-11-06: That morning he complained with a little tightness in his leg. We went to dinner and he became very ill with a fever. I rushed him to Aransas Pass to the emergency room. By 8:30 he was in HORRIBLE pain that no meds could ease. Later that night/early morning when the doctor couldn't figure out what was going on and were going to transfer him to a Corpus hospital....Harvey's blood pressure crashed and we nearly lost him.
6-12-06: We were in a Corpus Christi ER and that doctor had no idea what was going on. Then taken to ICU and that doctor said he looked like he was dealing with cellulites. He was close and it was a start but not the answer. Blisters popped out on Harvey's leg the next day and the pain subsided. He seemed to be stabilizing.
6-14-06: He began to crash and I insisted that specialists be brought onboard. Many specialists converged at this point. The infectious disease doctor started leaning toward Vibrio but because there was not a good culture there was no proof. He was spiraling downward with septicemia and multiple organ failure and they placed him in a coma and on complete life support and informed us that we should call in anyone that cared to see him while he was alive as they did not expect him to live through the weekend.
He was in a coma and on life support for approx. 10 days and began to hold his own. By the Grace of God and a zillion prayers....he was pulling through! They needed to debride the dead tissue from his leg and on June 26th he was strong enough to have this procedure.
These pictures are very graphic and require a strong stomach to view. I wanted you to see these pictures if you can so you can see how dangerous this truly is.
This is what his leg looked like after the fist debridement (cleaning) in Corpus Christi on June 26th after they saw his skin was turning black and dying.
Click on the pictures for a larger view
6-29-06: He was transported to San Antonio (our home town). The doctors had tried Hyperbaric treatment and other wound care but shortly there after he began to lose ground again.
7-12-06 : The doctors decided to amputate his leg above the knee to save his life. He had approx. 8 surgeries after the amputation to clean more dead tissue. He had massive amounts of hard core antibiotics he received blood transfusions regularly and had other procedures done. He was in ICU and IMCU for over a month struggling.
Below is taken on July 12, 2006 in the operating room just before they amputated his leg just above the knee.
8-22-06: Although the doctors were still stabilizing his chemistry & blood he made it to Physical Rehab. He began getting stronger and was getting up on a walker and taking steps.
9-28-06: Home! Even though he was still fragile he was so excited about getting to come home. He worked very hard to become independent and was doing a great job. About 10 days after we were home he began to lose ground again.
10-17-06 He was back in the hospital with multiple things breaking down. He needed a liver transplant at this point but his heart was damaged now and they could not transplant him. They stabilized him once more after a few weeks and he was home once again but this time it wasn't the same. He was not strong and encouraged like before.
11-21-06 Back in the hospital but this time he was basically non-responsive. The doctor called in Hospice and said to take him home to die. He rallied a bit for Thanksgiving then seemed to have a stroke a day or so after.
11-27-06: Hospice was called in and He died in my arms at our home with my daughter & family and many friends around him.
He fought long and hard and hundreds of people came together to pray for him and he touched many lives.
After he survived the initial onset he and I made a vow to get the word out to hopefully save lives. I am carrying out our mission in his memory. He was so loved and is so missed by many.
Link to Ksat news interviews by Janet
Link to Rehab pictures
In Memory of Harvey