CASSELBERRY, Fla. – Just a few days before Sarah Martinez narrowly avoided becoming infected with a life-threatening flesh-eating bacteria, she was gearing up for a trip.
“We were going to Sarasota for a surprise birthday for me and we had all planned it at the beach,” Martinez said.
The Casselberry woman said she had cut herself while shaving her legs a few days before the trip and thought nothing of it.
She had no clue the small cut, barely visible around her right ankle, could lead to a horrifying infection.
“The minute I got into the water I feel a stinging on my leg, and I thought it is just the salt water cleaning it out,” Martinez said.
She said the area grew increasingly painful and she couldn't put pressure on her foot.
Martinez said, “Thirty minutes after I got out of the water it started getting red. It started swelling.”
A day later Martinez decided to seek medical treatment.
“I went to the hospital, they took one look at me and then they sent me right back to a room and that is what really freaked me out, she said. "They said, 'Are you aware of what’s been going on with the bacteria in the water?'”
They were referring to necrotizing fasciitis, which is commonly known as the flesh-eating disease.
Doctors said Martinez contracted cellulitis and if it had been left untreated, it could have developed into the flesh-eating disease.
The same bacteria recently infected a man who didn't come into contact with water, and a 77-year-old woman who died after her leg became infected.
Florida Department of Health in Orange County issued this statement to News6:
When visiting the state's beaches and/or intracoastal waterways, residents and visitors
should cover any open skin cuts they may have with a water proof band-aid before
interacting with the water. If not possible, individuals can enjoy the sun and sand but they
may want to stay out of the water as a precaution against water borne illnesses.
"I'm definitely grateful that I listened to my instincts and went in when I did," Martinez said.
Martinez said she is still taking antibiotics for her infection and has no plans to dip her toes in beach water anytime soon.