What is Necrotizing Fasciitis? Man Contracts Flesh Eating Disease Crabbing in New Jersey

crab bucket
William Eskridge pulls just caught crabs from a bucket in Tangier, Virginia, May 15, 2017. The waters where crabs are found can contain dangerous bacteria that causes necrotizing fasciitis. Jim Watson/Getty Images

What started as a day of crabbing in New Jersey ended with a Pennsylvania man needing medical attention just hours later.

Angel Perez went crabbing last week at Matt's Landing in New Jersey and within a day of his trip, started to suffer from symptoms of an infection from flesh-eating bacteria, NJ.com reported.

The 60 year old suffered from blisters, swelling, redness, pain and more in his limbs as a result of the necrotizing fasciitis he developed from the vibrio bacteria. Perez was being treated in the intensive care unit at Cooper University Hospital, according to NJ.com.

Doctors said they hoped antibiotics might help stop the infection from spreading further, Dilena Perez-Dilan, Perez's daughter told NJ.com. If Perez doesn't respond to the antibiotics, doctors might amputate the limbs that are infected.

Vibrio is a type of flesh-eating bacteria that can be found in coastal waters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are several species of vibrio that can cause illness in humans and they tend to live in coastal waters where fresh and salt waters have mixed, like in an estuary where a river meets the sea water.

The bacteria are most common between the warmer months of May and October, when 80 percent of infections occur, according to the CDC. The majority of the infections occur due to people consuming infected or raw shellfish that live in the waters but they also occur in people who enter the water and are more common in people who have cuts or open wounds.

Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection, in Perez's case caused by the vibrio bacteria, that is potentially deadly. There are several types of bacteria that can cause the infection, like E.coli and others. The bacteria infect the tissues under the skin, called subcutaneous tissue, like that around the muscle, fat and nerves of the body, and can destroy those tissues which can result in the need to amputate.

If symptoms appear after exposure to brackish water or eating shellfish, the CDC recommends getting medical attention immediately so that doctors can begin treatment with strong antibiotic or can perform surgery to keep the infection from spreading. Symptoms include pain and tenderness, flu-like symptoms and later on, swelling, redness, radiating heat, ulcers, blisters and more.

Those with weakened immune symptoms are more at risk for contracting the infection but it is still incredibly rare, according to the National Institutes of Health.