Florida man says he contracted flesh-eating bacteria infection despite not entering water

A Florida man who is recovering from a flesh-eating bacteria infection said he was going through his normal routine last Friday and had gone for a paddle across a dune lake, but never entered the water, before he started developing discomfort in his arm.

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“I NEVER got into the water,” Tyler “TK” King wrote in a Facebook post on June 30. “After returning to the dock, we went on an electric bike ride down 30A bike bath and thru [SIC] a local state park. Halfway thru [SIC] the bike ride I started to experience a little discomfort in my left arm. Upon returning to where we started, my arm was starting to get pretty sore. I had figured that it was from riding aggressively thru [SIC] the trail, as it’s been awhile since I’ve rode a bike like that.”

But just 30 minutes later, King claims he noticed swelling and discoloration. He said a friend marked the rash borders so he could track its spread, and that he took Benadryl to see if it would help.

“Benadryl knocks me out big time so I was immediately out before waking up 2 hours later to find that the rash and swelling had nearly tripled in size,” he wrote.

He went into the emergency room, where he was allegedly diagnosed with vibrio vulnificus, also known as flesh-eating bacteria. He said he was given four different prescriptions and was later discharged, as the swelling and rash have subsided. He said the pain remains, and that he has several more days on antibiotics.

Vibrio vulnificus is a bacterium that is a rare cause of illness in the U.S., and typically occurs in people with a compromised immune system or an underlying illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria is a natural inhabitant of coastal waters, and those who develop wound infections typically do so after being exposed to brackish or salt water.

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Treatment in a timely manner is vital to control the infection, with aggressive attention to the wound site. Amputation of the infected limb may be necessary to prevent it from spreading.

But King’s case was different in that there was no wound, and the infection had not yet spread to his muscle tissue.

“The infection from the bacteria did not reach the point of it causing necrotizing fasciitis and actually destroying my muscle tissue and arm only because I acted quickly on getting medical treatment,” he said. “As quickly as it was spreading, only half a day or so more could have made some serious life altering changes to my body.”

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King said he was sharing his story because he hadn’t entered the water, and did not have any open wounds or cuts and that it is “100% unknown as to why or how I was infected, but I was infected none the less.”

“Bacteria, good and bad, is present everywhere in this world,” he wrote. “It is even important to have good bacteria in your stomach to help your body process food. With proper care, bad situations can be avoided. Listen to your body and never take unnecessary risks when it comes to your wellbeing.”