NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Florida woman dies from flesh-eating bacteria after visiting popular Manatee County beach

Posted at 11:35 AM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 06:50:35-04

A Florida woman who contracted a flesh-eating bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico in Manatee County died just a week and a half after her injury.

The family of Lynn Fleming, 77, said the grandmother was visiting Coquina Beach when she scraped her left leg in the water.

A day after her cut, Fleming became ill and eventually went to a hospital where they gave her a tetanus shot and a prescription. However, her family says she was never given antibiotics.

"You kind of heard once or twice, flesh eating disease, that kind of grabs you, but you would never think that happens to you," said her son, Wade Fleming.

The official diagnosis was Necrotizing Fasciitis, the infection commonly known as the flesh-eating bacteria.

According to the CDC, Necrotizing Fasciitis is rare, but people with compromised immune systems have a harder time fighting the infection.

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Fleming said his mother retired in Florida, and she loved the ocean.

The grandmother visited the beach on June 14, and died 13 days later.

Wade is sharing his story because he wants people to recognize the symptoms, and wants proper care given.

“If we can get the knowledge out to people, even to the first responders, emergency care, the lifeguard station, just so they can get more educated,” he said.

The CDC says one in three people who contract the flesh-eating bacteria will die.


Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection that can come from numerous bacterias, one of them vibrio vulnificus, which is considered rare in Florida, according to Florida's Department of Health.


Professors at University of South Florida tell us vibrio vulnificus thrives in warm water, but it's best to assume it is always in the water as it is natural occurring.

One infection that can come from vibrio vulnificus, is Necrotizing Fasciitis.

Vibrio can be in any water, however, it likes less salt so it's more common in Tampa Bay than in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is most common in March through December.


Florida's Department of Health tracks vibrio vulnificus -- in 2018, there were 42 cases with nine deaths.

The state agency does not test waterways for vibrio, but they test cultures from people who are diagnosed with the bacteria.


There are a number of factors to come in to play to get vibrio, but some of those include immunocompromised individuals who possibly have chronic liver disease, kidney disease or weakened immune systems, according to the DOH.


Those with the weakened immune systems who have open cuts, or wounds have chances of getting vibrio, but the chances are rare.

Florida’s Department of Health released a statement on Monday evening that they have not been notified of any one contracting necrotizing fasciitis.

In an email, a spokesperson wrote, “at present, we do not have first-hand knowledge related to any case of necrotizing fasciitis reported in the media.”