When black bubbles grew on his hand, a Florida fisherman learned about ‘flesh-eating’

Contaminated floodwater swirls with risk for serious infection

Hurricane floodwater often harbors harmful bacteria, most notably Vibrio vulnificus. If contracted, it can lead to serious infection or death.
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Hurricane floodwater often harbors harmful bacteria, most notably Vibrio vulnificus. If contracted, it can lead to serious infection or death.

A Florida man went fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and stuck himself with a small hook.

Routine fishing injury?

That’s what Michael Walton thought at first on April 13. It was just a little wound.

That day, he went to the hospital when his hand started to swell and was prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection.

A day later, Walton, 51, saw black bubbles growing on his punctured hand, he told Tampa Bay’s ABC affiliate, WFTS.

That’s when he went to Tampa General Hospital where a team of doctors who specialize in infectious diseases determined he’d contracted necrotizing fasciitis, according to Newsweek.

Mike Walton hand.jpeg
Mike Walton’s hand began to blister with black bubbles, a sign of necrotizing fasciitis on April 14, 2019. Ozona Fish Camp GoFundMe

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and emits toxins that damage surrounding tissues. It’s not really “flesh-eating,” though that is a popular description. Treatment includes antibiotics and prompt surgery.

Since 2010, about 700 to 1,200 cases of necrotizing fasciitis occur each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

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Initial symptoms include fever, dizziness, or nausea soon after an injury or surgery, followed by ulcers, blisters or black spots on the skin, the CDC says.

Walton, a mason, told the station doctors considered amputating his arm but believe they were able to remove the bacteria. Everyone hopes that a month of antibiotic treatment will ward off further complications.

His friends at Ozono Fish Camp in Florida started a GoFundMe page to help the Palm Harbor Walton family. The group set $100,000 as a goal, citing Walton’s responsibilities in supporting a daughter, his parents and a disabled sister.

By Thursday afternoon, the nine-day-old fundraising post had $17,875 from 126 donors.

The annual Power of the Purse Luncheons have collected thousands of new undergarments for women in crisis, and thousands of dollars have been raised for undergarment vouchers and a scholarship sponsored by Women United. This year, Aimee Copeland s

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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