What to Know
- A man who contracted a rare flesh-eating infection during a crabbing trip had his forearms and hands amputated during a successful surgery.
- The man's family said he may need to undergo a second surgery to amputate his legs.
- The man contracted the infection after being exposed to bacteria during a crabbing trip in the Maurice River in July.
A man who contracted a flesh-eating infection from a crabbing trip in the Maurice River in South Jersey underwent a successful surgery, according to his family.
Angel Perez, 60, had his forearms and hands amputated during a three hour surgery Wednesday, his daughter told NBC10.
"The surgeon said he did well," she said. "They put the tube down as a precaution but he was breathing on his own the entire time. They said they will begin working with us to get him prosthetics and getting to rehab."
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Perez's daughter said he may have to undergo a second surgery to amputate his legs but they are still consulting with doctors on whether he will need it.
The family also said Perez was in good spirits prior to the surgery and posted a photo of him smiling while in the hospital Tuesday.
Perez's scary medical battle began on July 2 when he noticed a skin rash after crabbing in the river near Matt's Landing in Commercial Township.
Soon, his legs started to swell and lesions began appearing on his skin. The next day he took two trips to local urgent care centers.
"It got worse. He started to swell up. You started seeing color change, blistering," his daughter said. "He was hallucinating at one point."
By July 4, he went to the hospital and was admitted to intensive care, diagnosed with a rare infection called vibrio necrotizing fasciitis.
His first words after having his breathing tubes removed were, "Don't take my legs. Please, don't take my legs," his daughter said.
Perez's severe reaction to the infection from the bacteria is extremely rare, according to Cumberland County health officer Megan Sheppard. It was likely caused by the bacteria entering his bloodstream through an open wound.
Vibrio vulnificus is common in New Jersey saltwater and brackish water, especially in the summer months, Sheppard said.
Most of the 80,000 cases of infection in the United States each year are caused by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, she said. Only about 205 of those cases develop from infections caused by the bacteria entering open flesh wounds, as is suspected in Perez's case.
"The immuno-compromised are typically more susceptible, " Sheppard said, adding that many cases involve vomiting and falling ill, but not the potential loss of limbs.
The small sandy stretch off Matt's Landing Road where Perez is believed to have been crabbing in the river has not been shut off to the public, as it is not an approved beach area anyway, Sheppard said.
Crabbing or fishing in the water increases the chances of a bacterial infection, compared to fishing from a boat or dock, she said.