Buda man could lose leg to flesh-eating bacteria

Adrian Ruiz' leg on Sunday, June 19, 2016. He noticed a rash on his leg. (Courtesy: Ruiz Family)
Adrian Ruiz' leg on Sunday, June 19, 2016. He noticed a rash on his leg. (Courtesy: Ruiz Family)

BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – A Father’s Day getaway to Port Aransas has left one Buda man fighting an infection from a flesh-eating bacteria. Adrian Ruiz’s family says they made their way down to the coast last weekend to spend time some fishing and have fun in the sun.

On Sunday, Ruiz told his wife he had a headache and noticed a rash developing on his leg. Within a few days, his rash got worse and once he made it to the doctor, they diagnosed him with Vibrio Vulnificus. Vibrio is a bacteria caused by eating under-cooked shellfish or by entering contaminated water with a cut or open wound.

“Once the doctor looked at his foot, he said ‘I think this is cellulitis, but I know you have been in the beach water. I’m not trying to alarm you or scare you but there has been flesh-eating bacteria reported in Galveston,’” said Adrian’s wife Lashelle Ruiz.

At the time, the bacteria had not been reported in Port Aransas. “If we would have known that there was flesh-eating bacteria in the water, we wouldn’t have gotten in,” said Lashelle.

After another 24 hours passed, it was clear to doctors and Adrian’s wife that his condition was worse. “I’m fearful for him possibly losing his leg, I don’t want to think that that is going to happen and I have told him that we are going to be positive,” said Lashelle.

The flesh-eating bacteria is more common during the summer months and is only transmitted through uncooked shellfish or while swimming at the ocean with an open cut or wound. Doctors say they found no cuts on Adrian and that his recovery is beginning to look positive. “He is getting better, he was up and around the room today he is in some discomfort, but swelling is going down. He is looking good,” said Seton Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Fausto Meza.

As for the family, they say vacations from now on will only include freshwater. “We love going to the beach. Just be cautious of this, enter at your own risk,” said Lashelle.

The family is asking for the public’s help as they now deal with a large amount of medical expenses and have set up a donation page on YouCaring.org.

So far this year, the Texas Department of State Health Services says there have been 27 reported cases of Vibrio. Out of those 27 cases, officials say 41 percent involved contact with water. In 2015, the department had 102 cases reported, 45 percent of those involved contact with water.

In Houston, a 50-year-old man from Jacinto City had to get his leg amputated this week after a similar infection. KTRK reports Brian Parrot made a beach trip to Galveston last week when he got the infection.

Tips for avoiding wound infections:

  • Do not handle raw seafood of any kind if you have a pre-existing wound.
  • Wear protective clothing (ie. Gloves) when handling raw seafood.
  • Avoid marine, estuarine or brackish (sea/ocean) water if you have a pre-existing wound.
  • If you sustain a wound or injury while exposed to salty seawater or while handling seafood, thoroughly clean and disinfect the area immediately and seek medical attention if the area becomes inflamed.

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