Man hospitalized with flesh-eating bacteria infection after family trip to Crystal Beach

Saturday, May 15, 2021
Conroe man hospitalized with a flesh-eating bacteria infection
A wife is sending a warning out to those planning to hit the beaches this summer after her husband contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while at Crystal Beach.

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Conroe wife is sending a warning out after her husband's wound was infected by a flesh-eating bacteria while visiting Crystal Beach last week.

Robbin Kelly-Dunn said her family was visiting the beach located in Galveston County for her birthday on May 5.

Kelly-Dunn said her husband Darrell was involved in a golf cart accident while on the beach which crushed his legs and injured him.

She said when they called 911, the dispatcher said it would take a while to get to a hospital in Galveston due to their location.

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"They had to do the surgeries and basically remove skin from her buttocks down to her toes," Lynn Fleming's son said.

The wife, who is a medical professional, said when her husband was finally admitted to a hospital, his wounds were still exposed.

"I know protocol," she said. "When someone comes into the emergency room with something like that, especially if it's on a beach area, you are supposed to clean the wounds because of possible infections. Nothing was done."

She said Darrell was released, and when they returned home they went to two other hospitals and an urgent care. Finally, he was admitted to a facility in The Woodlands where staff immediately put him on antibiotics.

"Had I waited, he could have possibly lost his limb," she said.

The infection is from a bacteria called Vibrio Vulnificus, which is commonly known as a flesh-eating bacteria. It can be found in raw or undercooked shellfish, and naturally present in salt water.

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"Probably the scariest thing I've ever dealt with in my life," Montgomery County Sheriff's Lt. Brian Bagwell says.

According to the CDC, symptoms of an infection can start 12 to 72 hours after exposure.

Associate professor in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at McGovern Medical School Dr. Anthony Flores said this infection is rare, but can occur, especially when someone has an open wound.

"The infections themselves that we see in either children or adults are pretty rare. But, when we do see them, it's usually after exposure to the waters where the bug lives," Flores said. "In somebody that has an open wound, more frequently in adults, we see it with people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, liver problem, Cirrhosis and things like that."

According to the CDC, storm surges and coastal flooding can also increase the presence of the flesh-eating bacteria. It is recommended for people to wait 48 hours after a significant rain event before going for a swim.

Symptoms or signs of an infection can include fever, blistering skin lesions, redness, swelling and pain.

ABC13 put in a request with UTMB Galveston on Friday regarding this case and has not heard back yet. Galveston County Health Department has information on its website about the Vibrio Vulnificus bacteria.

For a list of beaches and the current bacteria count, visit

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