Man’s death blamed on flesh-eating bacteria

Charles Horner died after a leg cut was infected by flesh eating bacteria.
Charles Horner died after a leg cut was infected by flesh eating bacteria.

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Flesh-eating bacteria is being blamed for killing a man in Virginia.

Last week, 75-year-old Charles Horner died after he cut his leg on a catfish spine in the Rappahannock River and became infected with the bacteria.

The bacteria occur naturally in warm coastal waters, especially in the summer months.

“It is present in waters in Virginia and all up and down the coast where you will find that type of water, even on the Gulf coast,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, Virginia’s state epidemiologist.

Forlano said you can get the bacteria from eating raw shellfish such as oysters, or you can become infected if you have an open wound or cut and you go in water that has the bacteria.

Forlano added the bacteria can be found in any natural-brackish water, which is water that is a combination of fresh and salt.

A Health Department official said if you have an open wound, avoid going in natural bodies of water and if you get cut while in the water, clean it out right away.

Chickahominy Health District director Thomas Franck says Horner is the first death reported in Virginia this year from vibrio vulnificus.

Click here to learn more about the bacteria from the Center for Disease Control. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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