66-year-old Tennessee man contracts flesh-eating bacteria in Florida, dies after heart stops twice 48 hours later
A 66-year-old father who was battling cancer has passed away after he contracted a flesh-eating bacteria in the sea in Florida during the Fourth of July weekend.
William David 'Dave' Bennett and his wife Judy went on a holiday from their home in Memphis, Tennessee to Niceville, Florida, over the weekend to visit Cheryl, their daughter. Though Bennett had no open wounds and had his scars covered during his time in the water on Friday, July 5, the next day he was admitted to the hospital with fever, chills, terrible pain in his legs, and a big painful red spot at the corner of his back.
Doctors in the hospital suspected that Bennett was suffering from a staph infection and prescribed the 66-year-old with antibiotics. But in the next few hours, his wound became septic and he sadly succumbed to the virus on the afternoon of July 7.
Posthumous tests disclosed that Bennett had contracted Vibrio Vulnificus, a kind of bacteria that lives in seawater and shellfish that isn't cooked properly. It is lethal to about 33% of people who come in contact with it.
After her father's demise, Cheryl took to Facebook and shared her story in detail to warn others who are vacationing in Florida where the bacteria is common. In her post, the daughter shared that they had been extra careful when it came to their father because he had been battling cancer for years.
"When my parents got in town I was fanatical about Neosporin and liquid bandaid. My Dad didn’t have any open wounds. He had a couple of places that were practicality healed, small scratches on his arms and legs that I made sure were super sealed up. My mom religiously sun-blocked him. We were taking precautions and we were good, so I thought. We had a blast."
She went on to explain how her father loved water and he was happy to be in Florida in the sun over the weekend. Cheryl said that she felt her precautions and concerns over her father might have been over-the-top. But on July 6, a day after their trip to the beach, Bennett woke up at 4 am with fever, chills, and terrible pain in his legs.
The family immediately flew back to Memphis and took Bennett to his usual hospital where doctors discovered a red spot that was growing on his back. Cheryl remembered telling the staff she suspected necrotizing fasciitis because he was in the water but they dismissed her concerns.
After he was prescribed an antibiotic, his spot went septic and his heart stopped twice before he passed away. It was only on Wednesday, July 17 that the family received the lab results that confirmed that the infection was caused by Vibrio Vulnificus, which thrives in the Gulf of Mexico.
In her post, Cheryl shared that she was filled with remorse and wished there were more warnings. "I would never have taken my Dad in the water if there was a bacteria advisory," she wrote.
She added, "I know you shouldn’t swim with an open wound but I didn't realize he shouldn’t be in the water with his immune system. I feel like I should have known and that is something I will live with for the rest of my life. If I would have done more research I would have but I don't think the general public realizes it either."
Continuing, Cheryl said, "There is information out there but I didn’t find it all until it was too late. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t need anyone to tell me what we should or should not have done. We already know. It was too late for us. Please just pass this on so it can help someone else."