A shark bite victim who survived a close encounter while swimming off Crystal Beach, Texas, earlier this month is now being treated for flesh-eating bacteria, KHOU 11 reported.
Blaine Shelton, a 42-year-old construction worker from Alvin, Texas, has racked up at least $100,000 in medical bills since the shark bite incident that resulted in injuries to his thigh, but his wounds are not healing and the costs are mounting.
"I'd heard there was bacteria in the water, I just never treated it serious," he told KHOU 11. "But to tell you the truth, if you've got a scratch on your arm or your leg, I wouldn't get in that water. And if you do, bring some alcohol with you to clean it the second you get out. It's nothing to play with."
Flesh-eating bacteria, which is referred to as necrotizing fasciitis, refers to a bacterial infection that destroys the tissue under the skin that surrounds muscles, nerves, fat, and blood vessels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Once the bacteria have entered the body, they spread quickly and if not caught soon enough, can lead to the loss of a limb and even death.
The likelihood of contracting it is rare though, and Shelton never gave it a second thought when he was attacked by the shark. He was just relieved to have escaped alive.
"I already saw the fin, and I knew it wasn't a porpoise," he told KHOU 11. "So I turn around to get out of there, and that's when he grabbed me by the leg."
He managed to swim to shore and a friend was able to flag down a deputy patrolling the beach.
"I honestly thought I'd go, get super-glued up and sent out the door," he said after receiving initial treatment, but weeks later he was back at the hospital undergoing treatment for flesh-eating bacteria.
Shelton has since set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to contribute toward his medical costs.
"I've got a $30,000 hospital bill and trying to take care of my elderly parents," he posted on the website. "I'm not able to work because of my injuries. It will take months of healing."
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