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Richmond man gets flesh-eating bacteria while vacationing in Virginia Beach

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Posted at 1:32 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 16:23:08-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Richmond man is fighting off a flesh-eating bacteria he got while vacationing in Virginia Beach, according to WWBT.

The station reported Charles Ballard Sr. waded into the ocean with his son, Charles Ballard Jr., while on a fishing trip in mid-June. Both men got tiny cuts on their feet from stepping on jagged rocks.

Three-days later, Ballard Sr. told the media outlet those cuts turned into open sores. He checked himself into the Wound Center at Chippenham Hospital, and was diagnosed with Vibrio Vulnificus – otherwise known as flesh-eating bacteria.

“Dying or losing a leg, or them having to cut it off, below the knee, preferably. I was kinda prepared for it,” Ballard Sr. told WWBT.

The Virginia Beach Dept. of Health told News 3 they haven’t had any cases of flesh-eating bacteria reported since 2014. According to officials, only two cases were reported that year.

“It’s very rare,” said Brad Delashmutt, the acting Environmental Health Manager for the Virginia Beach Dept. of Health.

Ballard’s case was not included in Virginia Beach’s recent report because he was diagnosed in Richmond.

“If this individual went to a hospital or a doctor in Virginia Beach, then they would have reported it to our department,” Delashmutt told News 3.

Even if Ballard’s case was reported in Virginia Beach, local health officials say they do not issue any warnings to residents, since the flesh-eating bacteria is naturally occurring.

“No we wouldn’t [issue a warning], because the Vibrio is naturally occurring in the water. It’s there, so there’s no reason to test for it. Our best advice is to protect yourself and, again, not to swim with any open cuts, or if you have a compromised immune system.”

It is not clear exactly where the Richmond man contracted the flesh-eating bacteria in Virginia Beach.

However, officials say if you must go in the water with an open wound, wrap it up with waterproof bandages.