KYLE, Texas — For the second time in two weeks, a Texas man has been hospitalized with a flesh-eating bacterial infection after spending a day at the beach with his family.
Adrian Ruiz, 42, of Buda, Texas, and his family went on a Father’s Day getaway to Port Aransas, Texas, near Corpus Christi. But Sunday he developed a headache and fever and noticed a red rash on his leg, according to Ruiz’s family.
The cause of the infection was diagnosed later in the week as Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, commonly known as flesh eating because its toxins kill skin cells they come in contact with through existing cuts and scrapes. Ruiz was admitted Monday to Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle.
“He is fighting to keep his leg,” family members said Thursday in a statement.
The flesh-eating bacteria naturally occur in warm coastal waters and can infect when someone’s open wound is exposed to brackish or salt water, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The problem comes when an infection develops into necrotizing fascitiis, the flesh-eating disease that can be caused by at least a half dozen types of bacteria.
“If we would have known that there was flesh-eating bacteria in the water, we wouldn’t have gotten in,” Ruiz’s wife, Lashelle Ruiz, told KXAN-TV, Austin, Texas. At the time, officials knew about an infection that had occurred a week earlier on a Galveston, Texas, beach, but not any problems in Port Aransas.
The Ruiz family also went fishing in Rockport, Texas, about 15 miles northwest of Port Aransas, this past weekend but did not enter the water, Lashelle Ruiz told KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi.
On June 17, doctors at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston had to amputate the right leg of Brian Parrott, 50, of Jacinto City, Texas, after he contracted a severe Vibrio infection on a June 12 beach trip to Galveston.
Parrott already has had a second surgery to flush the remaining portion of his limb with antibiotics in hopes of stopping the infection from creating further damage.
“Doctors hope (the infection) is controlled, and they’re watching it real close,” Parrott’s mother, Donna Dailey, told People magazine. “Every time it seems like it’s getting better, then something else happens.”
Parrott is diabetic, a condition that weakens his immune system and made him susceptible to Vibrio, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Doctors suspect that a scrape on his foot was the way the bacteria entered his body, his mother said.
About 100 deaths from various Vibrio strains of bacteria occur across the USA every year, and about 80,000 people contract the infection. But the illness most commonly occurs because of eating undercooked shellfish, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2014, the most recent year for which national figures are available, 124 people contracted Vibrio vulnificus; 4 out of 5 were men. Most who became ill from the vulnificus strain did not ingest the bacteria, and 18 people died from it two years ago, according to the CDC report.
Adrian Ruiz, 42, of Buda, Texas, developed a rash on his leg June 19, 2016, that developed into boils. He is now in a Kyle, Texas, hospital with a Vibrio vulnificus infection and hoping that his leg won’t be amputated. (Photo: Courtesy of the Ruiz family)