A Florida man has been hospitalized in Tampa this week after contracting a life-threatening flesh-eating bacteria while fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico, according to local television station WFTS.
Mike Walton is being treated at Tampa General Hospital for flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection that’s extremely rare in the United States.
Walton said he was fishing on Saturday about 20 miles off the coast of Palm Harbor when he was stuck by a fish hook, the station reported. He described it as a small prick, adding that it’s something that has happened hundreds of times while he’s fished.
Later that day, Walton went to a nearby hospital where he received antibiotics for his hand that was swelling. But by Easter morning, his hand had black bubbles growing on his hand.
“I had like little blisters starting to form on my hand and you could watch like sweat beads coming up on side of the hand, and then they just turned black,” he said.
Walton was rushed to Tampa General Hospital and placed in the burn unit where the infectious disease doctors could treat him.
He told WFTS that doctors told him he’s lucky to be alive, and lucky to have his arm.
“When you look down and you can see your own tendons, back of your hand and your bone going up your arm,” said Walton, “that makes it real.”
Doctors at one point had to consider possibly amputating his arm, but they were able to remove the bacteria from his tissues before it came to that.
“They sliced all the way down my arm, to relieve the pressure, and then I got a skin graft going from my elbow to the palm of my hand,” he said.
The Ozona native received a skin graft on the top of his hand, and up his left arm where his skin had been infected and was deteriorating. Walton depends on his hands as he works in construction.
Ozona Fish Camp helping raise funds for Walton while he is out of work for the next few months. They will host a fishing tournament, The Ozona Classic Fishing Tournament will be held on June 8th with a portion of the proceeds going to Walton.
Donations can be sent to:
Ozona Fish Camp
286 Shore Drive
Palm Harbor, FL 34683