(CBS NEWS) – Tyler King was at work in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, last week, when he noticed his left bicep starting to swell. He tried taking Benadryl but just a few hours later his arm had nearly tripled in size. He rushed to the emergency room.
"When I was a little bit younger, I probably would have tried to tough it out. Well, that would have been the worst thing that I could do," King said. "If I had gone to sleep … and had woke up with it at the rate it was spreading, I might not have an arm right now."
King had contracted vibrio, a bacteria commonly found in warm, brackish water – a mix of salt and fresh water. When exposed to an open wound, vibrio can cause a skin infection. If left untreated, the bacteria can be deadly.
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King, who owns a water sports business, says he did not directly touch water the day he was infected. He still doesn't know how it happened but he considers himself lucky.
Similar cases of infection have been popping up on beaches along the East Coast. A Maryland woman says her son is healing after he developed open wounds swimming in a bay last week. A 77-year-old woman who was walking along the Gulf died after developing necrotizing fasciitis when she fell in the water and cut her leg.