Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

Thursday, 17 October 2019 16:21

Florida Kayak Angler Recovering After Contracting Flesh-Eating Bacteria

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There are a ton of dangers to watch out for when kayak angling, from rough waters to bad weather and all kinds of critters. However, one Florida angler ended up battling the most unexpected kind of threat, Vibrio Vulnificus, an infection, which is more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. 
The bacteria is typically found in brackish ponds, coastal areas or estuaries, and the concentration can increase during certain times of the year or at certain temperatures.
The kayak angler, Bernie Stewart, is a Pensacola resident who went to Big Lagoon with a friend to spend the day fishing. According to Stewart, he managed to catch a lot of fish before calling it a day at sunset. Unfortunately for Stewart things did not go so well when he got home and started noticing that his right leg was hurting. Stewart initially thought that it was sunburn because of the redness, but when boils began appearing and he couldn't walk, he knew something worse was going on. 
Stewart ended up in emergency surgery at Sacred Heart Hospital where it was discovered that the bacteria had already entered his bloodstream. He had to be placed under a medically-induced coma when he went into multiple organ failures. This lasted for two-and-a-half weeks as his fiance stood by hoping for a miracle. Thankfully the story has a happy ending for Stewart as doctors were able to save his life and his leg. There is still a long road of recovery ahead of him as he will have to learn how to walk again. The infection has left him with no muscle or strength in his legs, but first, he will continue to have surgery to extend the skin graphs that he has received. 
Despite how common the Vibrio bacteria is in Gulf and brackish waters infections tend to be very rare. For example, less than 25 confirmed cases were reported for the entire state of Florida during 2019 and only one of these was fatal. However, it is still important to take precautions against this bacteria. According to medical professionals, it is people with already compromised immune systems who are most susceptible and the bacteria is able to enter the body through lacerations or cuts. Eating raw oysters or swallowing water can also lead to ingesting the bacteria. 
Like most kayak anglers Stewart is not going to let this incident deter him from the hobby that he loves. Although it could take more than a year until he can go fishing in his kayak again Stewart has said he will be back on the water as soon as his legs are working. 
Let us know in the comments or on the forum what has been the most serious or unusual injury that you have had to deal with while kayak fishing and what your tips are for keeping safe out on the water. 
Naomi Bolton

Yakangler's Community Manager and Editor - in charge of sourcing news and articles for the website. ┬áIf you have any ideas for new content, please do get in touch with me at: [email protected]

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