Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey

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Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on July 9, 2018.

A local father is fighting for his life after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey.

Dilena Perez-Dilan says her father, Angel Perez, is an avid crabber.

But on July 2 he was crabbing at Matts Landing in Maurice River. Hours later, his right leg began to swell.

"It turned brown, blackish color. It was swelling, it was blistered," she recalled.

Photos taken by the family show the discoloration and swelling. The infection spread to all four limbs, and Perez is now in the ICU at Cooper University Hospital.

Dilena says doctors blame a bacteria called Vibrio. It's in a group commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

Vibrio is found in brackish water and seawater - especially during the hot summer months.

The family is now warning others to be mindful.

"Be careful. The water, as much as we need water, it can be poisonous. It can be dangerous and we don't know what we're getting into when we get in there. That's why they do use boots - people use boots and covers to protect themselves," said Dilena.

Perez has Parkinson's disease, so he is at a greater risk for problems.

But the New Jersey Health Department says if anyone has open cuts or scrapes, it's best to stay out of salty water.

Anyone with liver disease or a weakened immune system should also avoid eating raw shellfish because the bacteria can also be spread through food.

The infection is rare, but New Jersey does report several cases of it each year.

The Perez family is hoping for the best, but right now living day-by-day. They do say that Perez is in good spirits.

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