Health Department receives few complaints about river rash, encourage more to report their condition

STUART, Fla. -- Numerous people are complaining about a skin condition some people on the Treasure Coast are calling "river rot."

As a result of high bacteria levels in the Indian River Lagoon, some people are blaming rashes on their skin on the unclean conditions of the waterways.

"I didn't realize it was that big of a health risk, you know?" said Butch Scott. As a first mate on a boat, he is frequently on the water.

"I started to get a rash on my legs, and it immediately started to turn into scabs," Scott described.

He's not alone. Rachel Sarangeli has seen the effects of bacteria in the water for years. In medical records, she points out documents from infections she's had from the water. "This is from 2011 and that is from the water."

She says now, he doctor tells her to stay out.

Multiple people have turned to Facebook to post pictures of their rashes. But the problem? Few are actually reporting the condition to their doctors.

Officials with the Martin County Health Department say plenty of people claim to have a rash from the river, but because they don't see their doctor about it, the Health Department is not getting all the data needed to determine the scope of the health risk.

They are also unable to confirm how many of the rashes are actually from the river.

Sarangeli has reported her skin conditions to her doctor. Scott regrets that he hasn't. "If I had anything to say, I would say anybody who is experiencing adverse health risks from the river water please get out there and report it," said Scott.

The Martin County Health Department asks that you turn to your doctors to report a rash rather than directly to the Health Department.

Print this article Back to Top