Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey

Friday, July 13, 2018
Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey
Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on July 9, 2018.

CAMDEN, New Jersey -- Family members say their father is fighting for his life and his limbs. They say he contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey.

Dilena Perez-Dilan says her father Angel Perez is an avid crabber.

But on July 2, he was crabbing at Matt's Landing near the Morris River. Hours later, his right leg began to swell. Then, she says it quickly got worse.

"It turned brown, blackish color. It was swelling, it was blistered," she recalled.

Photos taken by the family show the discoloration and swelling. He is now in an intensive care unit, with the infection spreading to all four limbs.

Dilena says doctors blame a bacteria called vibrio. It's in a group commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

Vibrio is found in brackish and seawater, especially during the hot summer months.

The family is now warning others to be mindful.

"Be careful. The water, as much as we need water, it can be poisonous. It can be dangerous and we don't know what we're getting into when we get in there. That's why they do use boots - people use boots and covers to protect themselves," said Dilena.

Mr. Perez has Parkinson's disease, so he is at a greater risk for problems.

But the New Jersey health department says if anyone has open cuts or scrapes, it's best to stay out of the brackish water.

Anyone with liver disease or a weakened immune system should also avoid eating raw shellfish because the bacteria can also be spread through food.

The infection is rare but New Jersey does report several cases of it each year.

The Perez family is hoping for the best, but right now living day-by-day. They do say that Mr. Perez is in good spirits.