A Florida man who contracted a rare flesh-eating bacteria from a fish hook is sharing his story in hopes to prevent someone else from suffering a similar experience.
During a recent fishing trip in the Gulf, Mike Walton accidentally impaled his hand with a fish hook, Bay News 9 reports.
What the fisherman believed was a minor injury turned into a life-threatening illness that kept him in the hospital for nearly two weeks, leaving doctors searching for answers.
Since the incident, Walton has been released from the hospital but is now hoping that his story will encourage other fishermen to use precaution with any fishing-related injuries.
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On the weekend of April 13, Walton was fishing with some friends when the fish hook got stuck in his hand, according to the GoFundMe campaign, which was set up to help Walton in the aftermath of the incident.
Because the Ozona native had experienced similar cuts before, he carried on with his trip, thinking nothing of the minor injury, Bay News 9 reports.
The next day, however, things turned serious when Walton noticed that his hand had gotten drastically worse.
A trip to Urgent Care and antibiotic prescriptions didn’t make his condition any better, as the blistering, bruising, swelling, and black-colored skin started spreading towards his thumb, according to the news outlet.
It was then that the fisherman opted to go to Tampa General Hospital where doctors determined that Walton had contracted an extremely rare, life-threatening, flesh-eating bacteria that spread from his hand into his arm.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW
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Luckily, it was discovered just in time, as doctors told the Florida resident that if he had waited any longer, there was a chance he could have lost his arm — or worse, according to the GoFundMe page.
“They said in a few hours, this would have gone up my arm into my chest and I wouldn’t have been here,” he told Fox News. “There was no saving me.”
“This is a very rare bacteria that has only [a]ffected 30 people historically in a state of Florida,” the GoFundMe campaign reads, noting that after doctors opened and cleaned his hand and arm’s tissue, they weren’t sure if it’d be salvageable or maintain its original functionality.
Walton immediately underwent surgery and to his relief, doctors were able to save his arm and hand.
“When I woke up, you talk about relief, is when you look over and see your thumb still sitting there,” he told Bay News 9.
Walton is now home recovering and once he’s healed, looks forward to participating in his next fishing event, which is the Ozona Annual Inshore Fishing Tournament on June 8, according to Bay News 9.
He also hopes that by sharing his story, other fishermen will be more careful while on the water by wearing gloves and cleaning any cuts immediately after they occur, the outlet reports.
In the meantime, his friends and family are asking for donations on GoFundMe to help Walton with medical and recovery expenses, as he is the sole provider for his family and will be out of work for some time.
“Mike has always been a huge part of this fishing community,” the page reads. “Fishing in local water all his life, he would never imagine something like this striking him and his family.”
Since its creation on April 16, the campaign has raised over $19,000 — a gesture that has not gone unnoticed by Walton.
“The way that everyone’s come together, it just floors me,” he told Bay News 9. “It makes you humble.”
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