MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Cheryl Wiygul says her family loves being in the water, her father included.
That`s why last week. while her parents were visiting them on the Gulf Coast.. they did it all, posting on Facebook about taking a boat into the bay and swimming in Boggy Bayou.
She writes her father had cancer and his immune system had been compromised. She'd seen the warnings about open wounds in the Gulf waters and heard about 'flash eating bacteria' so they were extra careful to use Neosporin and liquid Band-Aids.
'The term flesh eating bacteria is a conglomeration of several types of infections," says Dr. Steve Threlkeld at Baptist Hospital. "The classic one is Group A strep- causes strep throat. It sometimes can get into the skin and soft tissue and make people very ill."
Threlkeld is an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Hospital..
He did't treat Cheryl`s father but unfortunately that`s where he ended up about 24 hours after getting out of the water.
You can see the black spot that formed on his back. His daughter says it turned out to be necrotizing fasciitis, or that flesh-eating bacteria that soon after led to his death.
She says she had no idea patients with depleted immune system were just as vulnerable as those who have open wounds.
If you're gonna go to the beach, don`t swim in the water if you're significantly immune-suppressed, high dose immune suppressants like steroids, if you've gotten chemo, that should be a marker to make you a little more careful'
In fact, Dr. Threlkeld says this bacteria is much more likely to live in *warm waters.. like in the Gulf.. and you can also catch it from eating raw seafood.
Wiygul says she'd like to see more warning signage and beach towns promoting awareness..
But overall the doctor still says it's very rare just some people should not take the risk.