Indiana Man: Wife Got Flesh-Eating Virus from Clearwater Hot Tub

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CLEARWATER, FL — An Indianapolis, Indiana, man believes his wife died from flesh-eating bacteria she picked up from a hot tub at a Clearwater hotel.

Richard Martin told Indianapolis television station WRTV that his 50-year-old wife, Carol, was diagnosed with necrotizing fascitis after they returned home from a vacation in Clearwater in February. The couple stayed at the Days Inn, 2940 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, where Carol Martin took advantage of the hotel’s hot tub to relax.

When they returned home, she began to complain about a painful pimple-like sore on her right buttock.

She visited the doctor twice and received prescriptions for various antibiotics but Martin said the sore continue to grow.

On the third visit to the doctor, she had a biopsy of the area and discovering she had the flesh-eating virus. Carol Martin was rushed to the hospital for surgery and spent 16 days in an intensive care unit before she was released. She died at home Saturday, May 5.

“She made me lunch; I kissed her goodbye to go to work. I came home early in the morning and found her passed away,” Martin said told the TV station.

The coroner’s office in Indianapolis has taken tissue samples from Carol to determine if the infection caused her death. However, the results could take several months.

Martin told his local TV station that he isn’t “100 percent sure” that his wife came in contact with the bacteria in the hot tub but said she was the only one who used the tub at the hotel during their stay. There have been no other reports of anyone contracting the virus in the Clearwater area.

Days Inn’s parent company, Wyndam Hotels, has not commented on the story.

According to the Florida Department of Health, necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, serious skin infection caused by the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, which lives in warm, brackish seawater. The skin infection spreads quickly, killing the body’s soft tissue.

There were 49 cases diagnosed in Florida in 2017 with 11 of those people dying from the infection. So far in 2018, there have been no reported cases.

In Pinellas County, there have been five cases since 2016 with two deaths. None of those people contracted the infection from a hot tub.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people with an open wound or skin infection to avoid spending time in whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans). However, the CDC notes that the incidence of cases of necrotizing fasciitis do not appear to be on the rise.

To hear Richard Martin’s complete interview with television station WRTV, click here.

Image via WRTV and Florida Department of Health

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