Fla. Man Dies After Being Infected by Bacteria From River

Fla. Man Dies After Being Infected by Bacteria From River

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A Florida man has reportedly died less than 48 hours after being exposed to water bacteria.

Henry "Butch" Konietzky, 59, died last Monday after being infected with Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), a bacteria that belongs in the same family as cholera that lives in warm, saltwater bodies, CBS affiliate WKMG in Orlando, Fla. reported

Konietzky had been crab fishing in the Halifax River near Ormond Beach, Fla. on Saturday. When he woke the next day, his family members told WKMG that he noticed what looked like a bug bite on his leg. Doctors did not take the injury seriously until he started feeling ill, and the wound started "festering." He went to the emergency room on Sunday and passed away the next day.

"It's just horrifying, it's just totally horrifying," Debbie Stack, Konietzky's sister-in-law, told WKMG.

V. vulnificus usually infects people who eat contaminated seafood or enters the body when an open wound is exposed to water containing the bacteria.

Infection can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. However, if a person has a weakened immune system -- especially people with chronic liver disease -- the bacteria can infect the bloodstream. This can cause a serious illness that involves fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (also known as septic shock) and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal 50 percent of the time.

Family members state however that Konietzky was perfectly healthy before this incident.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that V. vulnificus infections are rare, but may be underreported. There were more than 900 reports of the bacteria in the Gulf Coast states between 1988 to 2006.

The Florida Department of Health added to WKMG that in 2013 there have been 26 cases of V. vulnificus in the state alone, resulting in nine deaths.

Flagler County Health Department Administrator Patrick Johnson told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that officials are concerned since two of the most recent cases happened near the same area.

"This is an illness that generally happens when someone eats raw oysters but that's not the case here," Johnson said. "Because the two most recent cases are linked to the same area, we wanted to make the public aware."

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