Connecticut Man Loses Leg After Contracting Flesh-eating Bacteria

A Connecticut man was forced to have his leg amputated after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria, according to reports.

Bruce Kagan, 68, had gone swimming in the waters of Hammonasset Beach State Park in late June, but a few days later he was admitted to hospital with an unknown illness, NBC CT reported.

There, doctors conducted tests revealing revealed that he had become infected with a type of bacteria that causes a disease known as necrotizing fasciitis. This rare, potentially fatal infection is caused by several different types of bacteria that move rapidly through the body, attacking the skin and soft tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

The bacteria may have entered Kagan's body through a small cut on his right leg, he said.

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

Doctors at the Hospital of Central Connecticut made several attempts to save his leg, but eventually they decided to amputate it above the knee on August 1 in order to stop the bacteria spreading and causing further damage.

"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. 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."

The name of the disease refers to the fact that it causes the death of soft tissues—for example, those that surround muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels—which can lead to vital organs shutting down in severe cases.

Necrotizing fasciitis is rare, occurring in only about 0.4 people per 100,000 every year in the U.S., according to a study published in the journal Skeletal Radiology.

Nevertheless, a doctor at the hospital, Joseph Glassford Garner, said the number of cases is 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," Garner told NBC CT.

Health officials recommend that certain groups of people who have breaks in the skin—such as the elderly or those with compromised immune systems—should avoid going in the ocean until these wounds have healed.

"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 said.

Kagan's family have now set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for his long-term care, prosthetic and other medical costs.