More cases of flesh-eating bacteria reported in Florida

A Tampa woman says she contracted flesh-eating bacteria at a Florida beach, just days after an Orlando woman was infected around the same area.

The woman posted about her experience on Facebook. She wrote that she got the infection after swimming in Manasota Key with a pin-hole sized cut on her foot. 

Days earlier, an Orlando woman shared her experience with flesh eating bacteria.  Sarah Martinez says she contracted the infection after swimming in Turtle Beach in Sarasota with a nick on her ankle. She was hospitalized and released after doctors gave her antibiotics.

"The cut was really red, it was really swollen, I could barely put pressure on my foot when I walked," she said.

In the last two weeks, doctors have seen at least five cases of flesh-eating bacteria. Those infections all originated at beaches on the west coast of Florida. Victims range from a 77-year-old woman, who died from the infection on Anna Marie Island, to a 12-year-old who needed several surgeries after being infected in Destin. 

Scientists at Florida Gulf Coast University are watching these cases closely now that it's summer. Dr. Matt Swearingen, professor of biology at FGCU, says warm water gives the bacteria opportunity to flourish.

"It's incidences of infection increase as the waters get warmer and warmer and warmer, a decrease as the water cools down," he said.

Dr. Swearingen says we can expect the highest number of cases in August as temperatures peak. He says despite the cases we've seen, the infection is not very common. However, there are certain people who may be more vulnerable.

"People with diabetes, so cardiovascular dysfunction, or liver disease is also associated as far as risk factors go," he said. 

The rate of fatalities when the infection reaches one's bloodstream is high, about 50 percent. If you have swelling or stinging on a cut after you get out of the ocean, you should go to an emergency room immediately.