Report of flesh eating bacteria concerns some beachgoers

Connecticut

(WTNH)–During the summer a lot of people in Connecticut come to the shoreline to cool off. One New Britain man says he dipped his feet in the water at Hammonasset Beach State Park and contracted a flesh eating disease.

“You can contract anything like that anywhere. Sitting in a waiting room at MediQuick or going to your doctor’s office and sure I’m sure you probably can catch it in the water,” said beach-goer Sherry Crick of Meriden.

She works in the medical field and says rinsing off after going into any body of water is a good idea especially if you have an open wound.

“Kids get cuts all the time,” said beach-goer Kimberly Holliman of Ellington. “I’m here with my kids so of course that’s something I’d be concerned about.” 

“It often does start from a small innocuous open wound,” said Dr. Craig Mittleman.

He is the head of emergency medicine at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London.

A wound infected by the flesh eating bacteria can lead to an amputation or even death.

Dr. Mittleman says the disease could have been contracted at the beach or  somewhere else.

“It is just as likely he contracted it somewhere else,” said Dr. Mittleman.

He did not treat the New Britain man but has seen the devastating disease throughout his career.

“It’s mostly found in elderly and immunocompromised patients,” said Dr. Mittleman. “Patients with depressed or suppressed immune systems.”

Neither the state Department of Public Health nor the DEEP have received reports about this case.

As far as testing for the bacteria, the DEEP says “With thousands of types of bacteria in the environment, we do not test for specific types as they are usually present in the environment in very small amounts.”

The DEEP also says that it tests the waters at Hammonasset Beach to national standards and in the last fifteen years has only had to close this beach once or twice for poor water quality. 

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