Man contracts flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing in New Jersey

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

Dilena Perez-Dilan says her dad, Angel Perez, is an avid crabber who was at Matt's Landing near the Morris River on July 2.

His right leg began to swell, and Perez-Dilan said it quickly got worse.

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

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.

Perez-Dilan said doctors blame a bacteria called Vibrio, which is in a group commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. It is found in brackish water and seawater, especially during the hot summer months.

The family is now warning others to be mindful.

"Be careful," Perez-Dilan said. "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."

Perez has Parkinson's disease, so he is at a greater risk for problems. Still, the New Jersey Department of Health recommends anyone with open cuts or scrapes 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, they are living day-by-day. They do say that Perez is in good spirits.

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