He Survived Cancer. It Was A Florida Beach That Killed Him.

Image: #KenFL74, CC BY-SA 3.0

Flesh-eating bacteria kills Memphis man who visited Florida waterways

| Daughter says victim was a cancer survivor

| By Susan Scutti, Jul 12, 2019

CNN – A Tennessee man died Sunday after he became infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a type of flesh-eating bacteria, while vacationing in Okaloosa County, Florida, his daughter said.

“Flesh Eating Bacteria sounds like an urban legend. Let me assure you that it is not. It took my Dad’s life,” Cheryl Bennett Wiygul wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post.

Vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s public health agency.

People with vibriosis become infected either by consuming raw or undercooked seafood or by exposing a wound to seawater.

Weakened immune system

Wiygul begins her description of her family’s ordeal by noting that her father had a compromised immune system due to cancer.

“He’s battled cancer for many years and has been in the water several times so it didn’t seem like a risk,” she wrote.

Yet due to recent reports of infections in people who visited Florida beaches, Wiygul said, she researched the topic and took precautions when her parents visited from Memphis in early July.

Her father “didn’t have any open wounds,” and she made sure the few small scratches on his arms “were super sealed up,” she wrote.

During their visit, she and her parents spent time in a boat on the bay, rode watercraft and swam in a bayou, splashed around a creek, swam in a pool and went to the Destin beach.

“Daddy stayed up late Friday night and watched a movie,” Wiygul wrote, adding that he “seemed to feel fine as he did all week.”

Yet, at 4 a.m. Saturday — just 12 hours after their last swim — he woke with a fever, chills and cramping.

He got worse on the way home to Memphis, Wiygul wrote: “His legs started to hurt severely. He was becoming extremely uncomfortable.” Read more. 

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