A California woman is urging the public to avoid standing water after she says her son was infected with a flesh-eating bacterium and died.
Jeff Bova, 41, died Friday after stepping into standing water with a small cut on his right arm last month while chasing his dog in a pond.
«Stay out of standing water, especially after it rains because it just contains a ton of bacteria,» Susan McIntyre, Bova’s mother, told NBC News on Tuesday.
«If you have any kind of cut and it starts to get red, go to the doctor right away, don’t wait.»
Bova had been diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, his mother said.
The often deadly infection spreads rapidly and kills the soft tissues of the body. Symptoms include hot skin with red or purple areas of painful swelling, even beyond the affected area, followed by fever, fatigue, and vomiting.
Even with treatment, up to 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand between 700 and 1,100 cases are reported in the United States each year.
“Accurate diagnosis, prompt antibiotic treatment, and prompt surgery are important to stop this infection,” the CDC says.
Mc Intyre, 67, of El Cajon, Calif., said her son didn’t see doctors.
Bova, from San Diego, tried to get over the infection he contracted in the Julian Mountains in San Diego County.
“He developed these really nasty blisters and he said he felt … when his arm oozing it was acid coming down his arm,” he said.
Bova, who was treating the infection with antibiotic cream and moisturizer, eventually succumbed to the pain and went to hospital, but died two days later, Mc Intyre said.
NBC News has not confirmed that the flesh-eating bacteria is the official cause of death.
Dr. Shweta Warner, who specializes in infectious diseases, said NBC San Diego that necrotizing fasciitis is not contagious, but it is rare and serious.
“It enters your body through the broken skin barrier and rapidly reproduces in your tissue, moving through the tissues very quickly and releasing toxins,” Warner said.
Streptococcus A, a bacterium that causes necrotizing fasciitis, is often found in warm and brackish water, Warner said. It is especially dangerous for people with weaker immune systems.
In a 2019 report published in the Annals of Internal Medicinethe researchers concluded that climate change may have brought flesh-eating bacteria to previously unaffected waters.
In June 2019, Carolyn Fleming, of Ellenton, Florida, died of necrotizing fasciitis after cutting her leg in the waters off Florida’s Anna Maria Island, her family said.
Mc Intyre said the rare condition must be publicized to save lives.
He described his son as compassionate, selfless and a lover of dogs. He too was engaged to be married, Mc Intyre said.
Mc Intyre said that she and her son talked every day and that he was a handyman who was building her a wood stove for her patio.
“I was only a couple of days away from finishing it,” he said. «Just before he passed away, he told me that he still had a job to finish for me.»
Madelyn Urabe and janelle griffith contributed.