CAMDEN — The flesh eating bacteria that landed a Millstone man in the hospital could have closed beaches if it had been found in an approved swimming area.

But because Angel Perez did not go swimming in an officially sanctioned beach, there's nothing state authorities can do except warn people not to swim in unapproved areas.

Perez's daughter told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that her father remained in the intensive care unit of Cooper University Hospital with limbs that turned brown and black after he went crabbing in the Matt's Landing area of the Maurice River on July 2.

Dilena Perez-Dilan told NJ.com that dad's blood has been infected and his skin has blisters, cuts and sores.

"The bacteria he was exposed to is vibrio vulnisicus," Cumberland County Health Officer Megan Sheppard told New Jersey 101.5.

Sheppard said people who consume raw or undercooked shellfish will be exposed to the vibrio bacteria and will suffer a gastro intestinal illness. They will generally recover in three days, according to Sheppard.

But when the bloodstream is exposed to the vibrio bacteria in the water through an open wound like Perez, it can turn into an infection throughout the body. Virbrio is a common occurrence in water that is "brackish," or a mix of salt water and fresh water.

Sheppard said Perez received treatment quickly, which is key to a successful recovery by bringing down the swelling and stopping the infection.

Such infections can result in limb amputations.

 

If Perez had been exposed in a beach area, it potentially could have led to beach closures.

"Because this is not a bathing beach area and it's not an approved swimming area there's nothing authoritative we can do. You can just warn people and educate people about taking the risk of swimming in a non-approved area and of eating undercooked shellfish."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ