Connecticut Man Contracts Flesh-Eating Bacteria After Swimming at Hammonasset

A doctor at the Hospital of Central Connecticut says while rare, cases of people contracting the bacteria are rising

A New Britain man contracted flesh-eating bacteria and had to have his leg amputated after swimming at Hammonasset Beach State Park, according to his family.

Bruce Kagan, 68, was admitted to The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain on June 30 after he began to feel sick.

"It's all because of a little cut. It's all it was, a little cut. Nothing more, nothing less," Kagan said.

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He had gone swimming at Hammonasset a few days earlier with a cut on his right leg he got while at work. His family believes that is how he contracted the bacteria.

"My life changed within one moment saying 'yeah, it's going to be okay.' Next moment, 'we don't know if you're going to be okay,'" Kagan said.

After several surgeries to try and save his leg, on August 1, doctors made the decision to amputate it above the knee to prevent the spread of the bacteria, known as necrotizing fasciitis.

"All I can say is that I am by far one of the luckiest men in the whole world, by far," Kagan said. "I don't know how I made it, but I did." 

A doctor at the Hospital of Central Connecticut says while rare, cases of people contracting the bacteria are rising.

"I do know over the decade we have more people who are immune compromised, have severe liver disease so we have more people at risk for this type of infection,” Dr. Joseph Glassford Garner said.

Medical experts say the bacteria can get into open wounds from ocean water and recommend those with compromised immune systems and the elderly wait until skin injuries have healed before going into the ocean.

"If you begin to develop redness, fever, increasing pain locally, that's an indication to contact your health provider and let them make the decision about how serious it is or not," Garner added.

The CDC says on its website that its important to act fact in the case of infection.  "Accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment, and prompt surgery are important to stopping this infection,"  the site states.  The CDC also said taking care of existing wounds should practice good wound care and avoid water of you have an open wound or skin infection.

Kagan has now been moved to a local facility to begin his rehabilitation.

"I've got 20, 25 years left on this Earth. I'm going to make it good. That's what I'm going to do," Kagan said.

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