“When I shuffled into the water, I felt my foot go into something’s mouth,” recalls Kelly Blomberg of her last fishing trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana. “There was blood everywhere. LSU’s biology department determined it was a baby blacktip shark. Thank god I didn’t lose my foot from that!”
But the bite quickly became the least of Blomberg’s problems. That wound allowed vibrio vulnificus—a rare microorganism sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria”—to enter Blomberg’s bloodstream.
Vulnificus doesn’t actually eat flesh, but instead excretes a toxin that causes white blood cells to destroy the flesh to banish the intrusion. “At first my foot got huge, then there was a red line running up my leg. I was freaking out,” says Blomberg, who after three months off work is only now beginning to heal. “The whole time that it was getting worse, nobody told me I had flesh-eating bacteria… there were tendons and muscle showing… They had to do a skin graft.”
Though it’s uncommon—the Centers for Disease Control confirm just 124 vibrio vulnificus cases reported in 2014—it can be a frightening and even deadly occurrence; many vulnificus victims lose a limb and around half of them die. “Vibrio has destroyed the lymphatic system on most of the left side of my body,” Jocko Angle, who contracted a vulnificus infection after incurring an open wound at a Mississippi beach three years ago, tells VICE. “My left leg looks it has a bad case of diabetes. I’ve gone to several surgeons, and I’ve asked them to remove it.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at Vice…
Or watch this scary video about vibrio in Florida: