Fisherman Dies From Flesh-Eating Bacteria

fisherman wading

Now here’s a freaky story that will have you thinking twice before swimming or wading into the ocean with an open wound.

A Florida fisherman has died from a flesh-eating bacteria that he caught while wading in brackish water. Richard Corley, 56, had waded into the seawater at Estero Bay with some friends on a recent fishing trip, where he caught the bacteria, according to WTSP television in Tampa Bay. 

The rare flesh-killing bacteria is called vibrio vulnificus and it likely entered Corley’s body through a cut on his leg when he was fishing. Though extremely rare, the bacteria is known to occur in warm brackish water.

There have been 37 such infections in Florida this year, with 12 of them resulting in death, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Family members of the deceased fisherman said the infection spread rapidly. He died just three days after being infected.  

At first it just looked like a bug bit. Then it spread throughout his leg and stomach. Doctors attempted surgery but it was no luck. The infection spread further to his back. On the last day at the hospital it had even reached his face.

The infection was made even more freaky given that Corley had been fishing at this location for more than 20 years.

Most healthy people can survive such an infection, but in people with underlying health conditions, they are 80 times more likely to develop blood stream infections that lead to death.

“If you have an open wound and you go into salt water, there is the possibility of contracting the bacteria in that wound,” Scott Sjoblom, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Polk County told the television station. “But if you’re a healthy person, and you have a good immune system and practice good hygiene and proper wound care, your chances of getting necrotizing fasciitis are extremely low.”

The victim’s brother, Brian Corley, said he would like to see public health officials take a more proactive role to warn people about the potential bacteria through posted signs and public service announcements.

“I’m not mad because he died. I’m hurt because he died,” Brian Corley said. “But I think there needs to be more awareness. They do signs for manatees and no wake zones and different stuff like that.”