A man from Waterloo, Alabama, is now fighting for his life at the intensive care unit North Alabama Medical Center after he contracted a flesh-eating bacteria during a kayaking trip.

Contracted Flesh-Eating Disease During Kayaking Trip

Ricky Rutherford and his family went kayaking on the Tennessee River at Second Creek in Waterloo on July 6, but two days later, he had a 103-degree fever and pain in his leg.

His legs were also cramping, but he thought the symptoms were due to the nature of his work in a warehouse.

Within three days, however, Rutherford could barely walk. He still had fever and redness and swelling on his leg, so he and his wife decided to go to the hospital.

Wrong Diagnosis

Doctors thought Rutherford had cellulitis. They gave him antibiotics and sent him home, but Rutherford's condition did not improve.

His wife, Cassey, who drew an outline around the painful area on his leg, noticed that the swelling and redness was spreading, so the couple went back to the ER the next day.

The doctors realized that something else was behind the symptoms after Rutherford's temperature increased to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rutherford had to undergo a surgery, during which doctors took a 5-by-6-inch chunk off of his leg. The cultures eventually confirmed he had necrotizing fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection that kills the tissue under the skin.

Many infections look similar to the early signs of necrotizing fasciitis, so diagnosis can be difficult. In early stages, necrotizing fasciitis may cause skin inflammation that spreads quickly, severe pain, and fever.

Later symptoms include black spots on the skin, pus, blisters, dizziness, nausea, and tiredness. Infection can be fatal and treatment needs to start as soon as possible.

Common Cause Of Necrotizing Fasciitis

There are a variety of bacteria that can cause necrotizing fasciitis, but group A Streptococcus (group A strep) is the most common cause of infection. Bacteria can enter the body through breaks in the skin, but because Rutherford did not have obvious cuts or scrapes, doctors think he contracted the infection through a tiny hole.

Rutherford is not yet well, but his wife believes the worst is over.

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