Man recovering from gruesome infection after taking trip to beach in Sanibel

Posted at 10:17 AM, Jun 29, 2016

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A man is recovering from a gruesome infection he says he believes he got after taking a trip to the beach.

For years, our waterways have been cause for concern.  But over the past few months, those concerns have been increasingly fueled by the flow of murky water coming from Lake Okeechobee.

Nicholas Gipson tells Four In Your Corner he took his father to Sanibel to enjoy the beautiful waters for his first trip to Florida. He never expected his trip to the beach ending at the Emergency Room.

It all started with a mosquito bite Gipson's dad got earlier this week, after he went for a swim off Sanibel, he says he started experiencing pain.  "He said it started bothering him like 10-15 minutes after the water but the pain and stuff started later on in the afternoon," Gipson said.

His dad covered the bite on his arm but in a few hours the pain intensified.

"The next day he was saying, 'oh this is getting bad. This is getting bad,' " Gipson explained. "And I thought this is just a mosquito bite and then he peels it off and it just looks like his skin is just dying and rotting."

He says his father's skin was rotting to the point he needed surgery.  "Then he started having red streaks pretty much mapping his vein up his arm and on the shoulder, so at that point I was like, 'yeah, let's go to the ER.'"

Gipson tells FOX 4, doctors had to remove a chunk skin the size of a small sand dollar out of his father's arm.

"They basically had to cut it all out and drain it. It looks awful," he said. "the doctor said it was most likely caused by the water. It was basically a severe staph infection."

John Heim, a clean water advocate, says he blames this infection on Southwest Florida's water quality. 

Right now our waters are two to three, if not four times, the unhealthy status, when it comes to bacterial levels," Heim said. "It breaks my heart, but it needs to be real for us to respond to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society that if it isn't happening to us it's not real."

Gipson's father is still waiting for the official results from earlier testing.

Four In Your Corner reached out to the Health Department; a spokesperson says there are currently no warnings issued for Lee County beaches.