Alabama Man Infected with Flesh-eating Bacteria after Kayaking on Tennessee River: 'Do Not Get in That Water!'

Surgeons were forced to remove a chunk of an Alabama man's thigh after he became infected with flesh-eating bacteria during a family outing.

Ricky Rutherford from Waterloo developed cramping, inflammation and a fever on July 8, two days after kayaking and swimming with family and friends on the Tennessee River, local station WAFF reported. As of Monday, the warehouse worker was still in intensive care.

Rutherford's symptoms grew worse, and he went to hospital with his wife. Doctors initially thought he had cellulitis, but after his temperature soared to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, they realized something else was behind his symptoms.

His wife, Cassey Rutherford, explained: "[Surgeons] had to remove a five inch by six inch piece of his inner thigh. At that time, they took cultures of what was going on in there."

Doctors discovered Ricky Rutherford had necrotizing fasciitis, his wife told WAFF. This very serious bacterial infection quickly kills tissue under the skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It requires rapid hospital treatment with intravenous antibiotics and, often, surgery.

Bacteria like group A. Streptococcus can enter the body through breaks in the skin and cause the illness. As Ricky Rutherford did not have any obvious cuts or scrapes, doctors said he might have contracted the bacteria through a tiny hole.

Early symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis may include skin inflammation that spreads quickly, fever and severe pain, the CDC reports. Later symptoms can include blisters, black spots on the skin, pus, dizziness, nausea and tiredness. Without adequate treatment, necrotizing fasciitis can kill.

Ok guys sorry it’s been so long for an update but we have been waiting on one ourselves. They finally called in an...

Posted by Cassey Rutherford on Thursday, July 11, 2019

Even after his surgery on Friday, doctors weren't convinced Ricky Rutherford would pull through. Cassey Rutherford said his progress had been "up and down." She told WAFF: "On Saturday, the doctors told me that they assumed by Saturday night that he would be on life support and that he was capable of dying. They told me to prepare for the worst."

Luckily, his condition had started to improve by Monday, according to his wife's Facebook updates. Cassey Rutherford has been sharing updates on social media in the hope of raising awareness about the dangers of her husband's rare infection.

"I don't want anyone else to go through this. On Saturday, I was having to think about burying the love of my life. No one should ever have to go through that," she told WAFF. "Do not get in that water! It's not safe. Don't jeopardize your family for a day of fun. It's right here in our backyard."

Flesh-eating bacteria, Alabama
File photo: Kayaks are pictured on the bank of a river. An Alabama man is recovering from necrotizing fasciitis after a family kayaking trip. Getty