OCEAN CITY, MD (WJZ/CNN) – A 67-year-old man died after his open wound was infected with a flesh-eating bacteria.
While vacationing in Maryland in September, Mike Funk entered the bay water with an open sore on his leg. Two days later, he knew something was wrong.
“I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ He said, ‘I don’t feel good. I’m throwing up,’” Funk’s wife, Marcia, said.
Vomiting became agonizing pain in his leg, which landed Funk in the hospital. There, the leg swelled up and his kidneys started to fail.
Marcia Funk says doctors told her that her husband had contracted vibrio vulnificus, a flesh-eating bacteria.
Funk was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where doctors hoped amputating his leg would stop the infection. When that didn’t work, he was put on life support and later died.
The Funks had spent many hours on the water, particularly around Ocean City, MD. Marcia Funk was shocked to learn flesh-eating bacteria thrived there.
“I didn’t know anything like this existed in waters in Ocean City,” she said.
Maryland health officials won’t comment on the specific case, but they say they deal with at least 30 to 50 reports of vibrio each year. Some of these are fatal.
“This year, we’re running a little on the high side of that number,” said Dr. Clifford Mitchell, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Doctors say the bacteria lives in warm salt waters, generally impacting people with weak immune systems.
“People should be concerned,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Most of the cases we can say come from wound infections, skin infections or consumption of raw shellfish.”
Copyright WJZ, Funk family via CNN. All rights reserved.