Hurricane Harvey has caused another casualty about two months since it hit Texas. The victim, who was 31 years old, died of a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection last week.
Josue Zurita was a carpenter helping repair a number of homes in Galveston and Harris counties that were damaged by the flooding caused by Harvey when he contracted necrotizing fasciitis. He incurred a gravely infected wound on his left arm’s upper portion and was admitted to a hospital on Oct. 10, succumbing to the infection six days later.
Three Cases Of Necrotizing Fasciitis Related To Harvey
Zurita is not the first victim to be claimed by necrotizing fasciitis. Nancy Reed, aged 77, from Houston died in September after contracting the infection.
The third person, J.R. Atkins, known to have been infected with the infection post-Harvey, survived it. Incidentally, he had contracted the deadly bacterial infection when he was rowing his kayak through floodwaters to check on his hurricane-affected neighbors.
"We're surprised we saw three of them in the region, but given the exposure to all the construction and potential injuries that people would have ... it shouldn't be surprising,” Galveston County local health authority, Dr. Philip Keiser, said.
Flesh-Eating Bacterial Infection
Infections such as necrotizing fasciitis are quite rare, according to Keiser, with about 700 to 1,100 such cases reported in the United States since 2010. The infection can be caused by various kinds of bacteria and can escalate quickly, subsequently killing the body’s soft tissues.
Necrotizing fasciitis can become fatal in a very short span of time. The bacteria can flourish in the space between the muscle and the skin once it gets in through a break in the latter. Consequently, the infection can kill all the nerves leading to clotting of the blood vessels.
The infection can prove to be more lethal if it infects a wound and is not properly cared for. Therefore, taking care of the wound efficiently is the key to preventing such deadly infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has also advised floodwater workers not to go near natural bodies of water if they have an open wound.
Moreover, Keiser says one should be meticulous about washing the hands often with soap and water and not delay treating even what they consider minor and non-infected wounds. Medical attention is a must if a person notices any swelling or redness of wounds as well as accompanying fever.