A day care teacher who thought a blister on his foot was caused by his shoe learned it was a dangerous, flesh-eating bacteria — and had to have his right foot amputated.
Raul Reyes of Houston visited a clinic for the blister on his foot and was told he had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial skin infection that attacks soft issues throughout the body.
Reyes’ wife, Joseline, told the Houston Chroniclethat doctors then had no choice but to amputate in order to stop the bacteria from spreading throughout his bloodstream.
“[Raul] hurt his foot at work, so he thought the swollenness was due to the injury,” she told the newspaper. “After a few days, it was still swollen and he has a blister on his foot, which he thought was caused by his shoe. He woke up the next day and the blister was covering his entire foot, so he went to the clinic, where they told him to get to the emergency room immediately.”
An orthopedic surgeon later performed emergency surgery, telling Reyes beforehand that there was a chance that amputation might be necessary.
“Thirty minutes pass and I see the doctor come out,” she continued. “She tells me that she tried to get as much bacteria out but that they had to amputate his foot in order to save his life.”
Doctors believe Reyes contracted the infection through an open wound from an ingrown toenail.
“He is very eager to start therapy for a prosthetic,” Reyes said. “He tells me that he’s not letting anything stop him from advancing.”
Necrotizing fasciitis can lead to amputations or “be deadly in a very short amount of time,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common method of infection occurs when the bacteria enters the body through an open wound or skin infection, particularly in whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools and salty or brackish water.
Roughly 600 to 1,200 cases have been recorded annually in the United States since 2010, although more infections likely go unreported, according to the CDC.
Reyes’ wife said the family was shocked that he contracted the bacteria.
“We were like, no, no, he’s perfectly healthy,” she told KTRK. “We haven’t gone to the beach in a year, so it’s just weird how all of this happened.”
Messages from Reyes’ students have helped him through his recovery, she said.
“It just raised his spirits and he wants to go back to work already and be with the kids,” she said.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to buy a prosthetic foot for Reyes — who does not have health insurance — and had brought in more than $13,000 as of Monday.