July 29, 2014 / 9:15 PM / 4 years ago

Maryland man leaves hospital after bout with flesh-eating bacteria

ANNAPOLIS Md. (Reuters) - A Maryland man who nearly lost a leg and his life to a flesh-eating bacterial infection he contracted in Chesapeake Bay, has been released from hospital, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Rodney Donald, 66, was crabbing, swimming and kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay this month when a scrape became infected with vibrio vulnificus, an aggressive bacteria that feeds on flesh, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Donald was taken to a hospital on July 11 when his right leg swelled up. He was transferred to MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, where doctors performed six surgeries, including a skin graft.

He spent two weeks in the hospital before being released on Thursday, the spokeswoman said.

A vibrio infection can result from eating contaminated seafood or an open wound that is exposed to warm seawater, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bacteria strain causes severe illness characterized by fever and chills, septic shock and lesions. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

The bacteria thrives in brackish water, like the Chesapeake Bay watershed, especially from May to October.

Vibrio cases are on the rise in the region. In a 2009 study, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found that the increase in infections was linked to pollution and unusually hot summers.

In Maryland, the number of vibrio cases reached 57 last year, a 10-year high, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

So far this year, there have been a reported six cases of the type of bacterial infection Donald had. There were 14 cases reported last year.

Nationwide, there are as many as 95 cases of vibrio vulnificus each year, along with 85 hospitalizations and 35 deaths, according to the CDC.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Gunna Dickson

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