Man gets flesh eating bacteria after swim in SC lake

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GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – A Goose Creek man is undergoing surgery after flesh-eating bacteria nearly caused his arm to fall off after swimming in Lake Marion. 

Thomas Douglas went on a camping trip at Harry’s Fish Camp with his friends a little over a month ago. 

“It was a good time, until this happened,” Douglas said. 

He went during the week and did a little fishing and also swimmed in the lake. When he returned home, he noticed something different with his arm. 

“I woke up Sunday morning and my arms were swollen, felt like it would explode,” he said. 

That’s when Douglas rushed to the hospital. 

“They had to (perform) emergency surgery and cut my arm open because it was about to explode,” he said. 

Douglas says doctors found two flesh eating bacteria eating away at his arm. Doctors say it’s because Douglas went swimming with an open cut. 

“They were able to save my arm, I almost lost it,” Douglas said. 

He’s now undergone four surgeries, which unfortunately has left him unable to work. 

“I haven’t had a check in over a month, so I don’t know how I will make it with no money,” he said. 

Douglas says his job doesn’t grant short-term disability. Through it all, he’s remaining hopeful. 

“What can you do?” he asked. “It’s nature, it’s everywhere.”

Douglas said he’ll definitely go fishing again, but he won’t be going swimming anymore. He said he wants everyone to be careful. 

“Not everybody gets it, I was just one of the unlucky ones,” he said. 

WCBD TV did reach out to Harry’s Fish Camp, but they did not want to comment at the time. 

What is flesh eating bacteria? 

Necrotizing Fascitis, or flesh eating bacteria, is an infection of the tissue under the skin that surrounds muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels. It usually gets in your body through a break in the skin. 

Early symptoms include; a red or swollen area of skin that spread quickly that’s accompanied with severe pain and fever. 

Antibiotics and surgery are typically the first lines of defense if you do get it, but common sense and good wound care are the best ways to prevent bacterial skin infections. 

If someone does have an open wound or skin infection, avoid spending time in hot tubs, swimming pools and natural bodies of water like the ocean and lakes. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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