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Waynesville man contracts flesh-eating bacteria in Tampa Bay, nearly loses foot

Posted at 9:35 PM, Apr 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-28 21:36:27-04

Warning: This article contains graphic images

TAMPA, Fla. — Just days after a Florida fisherman was diagnosed with a rare flesh-eating bacteria, a second family has come forward with a similar story, this time outside the Gulf of Mexico.

Barry Briggs, from Waynesville, Ohio tells ABC Action News he was visiting family in Tampa for Spring Break when he became sick after a boating trip near Weedon Island.

“Early that Sunday evening I got a little swelling, initially I thought maybe it was a sunburn,” he said.

Briggs said his foot started to swell, but he was able to make his flight home to Ohio. When he got there, he was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.

The infection, known for eating away a person’s flesh, is considered to be a life threatening condition.

Group A strep bacteria is considered to be the most common cause of necrotizing fasciitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Briggs was rushed into Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio in March after returning home from his trip in Tampa.

For Briggs, doctors said they could not find any open cuts or wounds on him. Usually, it takes a break in the skin to allow the bacteria to enter the body.

“I don’t remember being scratched, a poke, or a bite,” said Briggs, “The doctors looked when I went in and couldn’t identify anything.”

The CDC also says it can happen from blunt trauma.

The Ohio man spent 11 days in the hospital being treated. He underwent skin grafts and was put on several different antibiotics.

Briggs has used a Facebook page, Barry’s Medical Update, to post the raw images of what the flesh eating bacteria can do — leaving his foot and shin without any skin.

For him, it was how quick the bacteria developed, what started out as slight bruising turned into an inflamed dark, black bubble.

This story comes just days after we first reported on Mike Walton, a Florida fisherman who was poked by a fishing hook twenty miles off the coast of Palm Harbor.

Walton was rushed to Tampa General Hospital and placed in the burn unit where he also underwent several skin grafts on his hand and wrist.

Walton is now recovering at home.

The CDC says since 2010, there are approximately 700 to 1200 group A necrotizing fasciitis cases each year, but they think it’s an underestimate.